Monday, March 31, 2008

From Marc Andreessen's blog post "Oh. Wow".

Future blogger Alexei Barrionuevo writing in the New York Times:

When military forces loyal to Gen. Augusto Pinochet staged a coup [in Santiago, Chile] in September 1973, they made a surprising discovery. Salvador Allende’s Socialist government had quietly embarked on a novel experiment to manage Chile’s economy using a clunky mainframe computer and a network of telex machines. [Who you callin' clunky?]

Chile's socialist government was trying to implement a planned economy using computers. The project called Cybersyn. Let's say, it would have been like one called
supply chain management system nowadays. According to a standard economics textbook, this kind of trials are destined to fail. And in this case, it actually failed as the textbook says.

You do have to give them credit for one thing -- it would have been a better plan than the standard "make s*** up" strategy pursued by so many other politicians.

This dude deserves to go in the history books alongside Doug Engelbart and Ted Nelson, that's for sure.

And tell me you've never wanted to sit in a chair like that...

The above are the remarks by Andreessen. I am not sure if he was really impressed or just sarcastic. It's sometimes hard for me to tell whether Americans are serious or just joking. I could give the computer-based planned economy guys credit for their challenge spirit. Other than that, it was basically a lame project.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The most watched YouTube video of all time

YouTube yobs chase top video off the charts

The Italian blogger who uploaded what became the most watched YouTube video of all time says he decided to kill off his mega hit after he was subjected to a torrent of abuse from viewers on the Google-owned video sharing site.

The year-old video, which had been viewed over 100 million, was deleted from the YouTube servers last weekend by the Italian, who calls himself Clarus Bartel.

"I was fed up [with the abuse and accusations of statistical manipulation]," Bartel said in an email. "I am not interested in the first place if this is the price I have to pay."

The three minute clip was a home made video remix featuring the Brazilian band Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) and their song Music is My Hot Hot Sex .

According to the last published YouTube tally before it was deleted, the video had been watched 114, 281, 553 times since being uploaded last April.

This is interesting because:

1. "the video had been watched 114, 281, 553 times since being uploaded last April." C'mon. Watched more than 100 million times? Even Nico Nico Douga, the most popular video sharing service in Japan, does not have a video which has been viewed more than 10 million times.

2. The video hosting company, YouTube, is apperently an American company. Brazilian band Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) sings a song in English. (you can watch their (probably) original music video at here)
The guy who made the remix was an Italian. And the viewers are people across the world. This is really a global phenomenon. I can tell the wide stretch of English speaking world. At the same time, I feel sad about smallness of Japanese speaking world.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Invest for your gut feeling

Hong Kong Billionaire Puts Another $40 Million Into Facebook

What’s another $40 million to a billionaire? Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, chairman of telecom giant Hutchison Whampoa, revealed during a conference call that he has raised his stake in Facebook by another $40 million or more. This is on top of the $60 million he previously invested.

For better or worse, personal investors never come to the center stage in Japan when it comes to investment to venture companies. Investors are always companies, not indivisuals. Japanese decide which to invest in a "commitee meeting", not to personal "gut feeling".

This kind of group-oriented decision making may be effective when you try to catch up with something advanced with well-defined specification. However, Japan has been an advanced country for years and what Japanese need to do now is to innovate something brand new, not to mimick something already invented.

Innovative ideas always come from somebody's brain, not from a group. Japan can be more innovative if rich investors act believing their own gut feeling.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Work in Singapore

Singapore is a tropical city state surrounded by the 21st century's potential superpowers such as China, India and Indonesia. Singapore has been making a great effort to attract highly skilled workers from overseas and try to build its economy based the knowledge-intensive industries such as finance and information technology.The future of Singapore economy looks bright.

While I'd really like to work in Silicon Valley, the possibility of me getting US visas is very bleak. A backup plan would be to work in Singapore.

There are three reasons:

1. English is an official language in Singapore. All business activities are conducted in English. Doing business in English is becoming more and more common practice all over the world nowadays, and working in Singapore helps me to acquire and keep the ability to conduct business in English.

2. Singapore has a multicultural society. It consists of people with many different ethnic background - Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Indonesian and so on. I can speak
Chinese(Mandarin) and would like to learn Indonesian.

3. Singapore is tropical. I do hate cold weather.(That's one of the major reasons why I got away from Canada) The hot weather does not bother me at all...I'd rather love it!

The potential pitfalls of living in Singapore are:

1. Political system. Singapore is not a perfectly democratic country yet. The newspaper and TV are controlled by the government and critism to the government is prohibited.

2. Micro-management. Singapore is also called a "fine city". There are so many rules in public space to force residents to behave themselves. This could be strifling.

Sigh. I wish Singapore would be a truly democratic country soon. Although I do understand its complicated historical background, Singapore society should be stable and mature enough to embrace democracy now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Incentive superpower

Marc Andreessen was a cofounder of Netscape and now a CEO of Ning. He is also known as an excellent writer. The following is his recent blog post.

The Psychology of Entrepreneurial Misjudgment, part 1: Biases 1-6

Based on Charlie Munger's work, Andreesen explains how important incentive schemes are. Human beings are not computers. They are driven by emotion not by logic. Therefore, we have to think carefully how to work on his or her emotion to get a preferable response.

Andreesen is a greater writer, I think. But as far as this blog post is concerned, it is too long for me to read them all. Sign. My English reading speed lags far behind that of my Japanese, which is my native speaking language. I wish I could read faster.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Labor protectionism in US

This is an interesting entry.

Transcript: Bill Gates, U.S. Rep. spar over H-1B visas

In Washington, D.C., today, Bill Gates testified before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology, calling again for Congress to reform the H-1B visa program that Microsoft and other companies use to bring foreign workers to the U.S.

Many foreign IT engineers come to U.S.(especially San Francisco - Bay Area) to work with H1-B visas. The number of issued H-1B got reduced dramatically after the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001. It is very hard for foreign skilled workers to get jobs in US simply because they can't get proper visas to work. On the the other side of the coin, US high-tech companies are having hard time to find excellent workers from the overseas. Bill Gates's words represent the thoughts of high-tech industry in US.

The following is an excerpt from the conversation between Gates and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican.

Rohrabacher: ... Our goal isn't to replace the job of the B students with A students from India, because those B students deserve to have good jobs and high-paying jobs.

Gates: ... The B and C students are the ones who get those jobs around these top engineers. And if these top engineers are forced to work, say, in India, we will hire the B and C students from India to work around them.

The Representative's assertion is a typical protectionist remark. This kind of remarks are usually popular among ordinary people, so often acquire political support, while repeatedly denied by liberal economists as harmful for economic growth.

What interested me was that there were a several comments posted which supported Rohrabacher's insistence.

Right on Rohrabacher!!! We finally have someone who will stand up to lecherous businessmen such as Bill Gates!

It seems that US also has a certain number of protectionists inside and they have illusion and resentments that cheap, non-innovative foreigners are crowding out US citizens' jobs and make them poorer. Japan is becoming more and more introvert and protectionist in the recent years. US might be going the same path as Japan.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Take a look at digg

I usually use "Hatena Bookmark", the most popular social bookmark system in Japan. Looking for equivalents for English speaking people, I have heard that and digg are good. I tried to have a look at digg in the last few days.

When I visited digg last, the hottest entry in the last 24 hours was "You’re a MORON!".. It is an unsophisticated but eye-catching title. The story goes like this. The author of this entry got his xbox 360 stolen a few days ago. Hearing the bad news, his kind coworkers gave him a new xbox as a gift. When the author checked his mail box in the new xbox, he found a message telling him to pay money to get it back from the culprit.

Well, the culprit does seem to be a moron. He didn't know that he would be identified so easily if he conducted such an act.

This is a stupid post. But I found it kind of amusing. The sentences are well-written and entertaining. I wouldn't be able to reach this kind of silly but humorous blog entries unless I visited social bookmark systems like digg.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Find a vocation in your life where you just really enjoy the act itself

This is an excerpt from a recent blog entry "In it for long haul" of David Heinemeier Hansson, the author of Ruby on Rails.

In light of this, I strongly recommend that you find a vocation in your life where you just really enjoy the act itself. Not just the results, not just the external incentives. The actual work. There's not enough time to spend it doing anything else.

He has been really enjoying working on Ruby on Rails for five years. I hope that someday I will create work that I love to do for its own sake.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Going to Silicon Valley

Recently, I have started thinking of moving to Silicon Valley seriously.

Why do I want to go to Silicon Valley? There are a few reasons.

1. Curiosity. Silicon Valley keeps creating various innovation after innovation. In my opinion, it has not only good engineers, but also has excellent entrepreneurs and financial support systems for start ups. I am very interested in what makes SV so creative for a long period of time.

2. Morale. My personal goal is to be a good cosmopolitan member who is able to live and work wherever I want to. I want to live and work with people from various background (culture, language, ethnicity, nationality, etc). It is slightly difficult for me to live like that in Tokyo. You might say "Does Tokyo not have a lot of foreigners coming from all over the world?". You are right. However, it is so easy for me to work with only Japanese using only Japanese language that I often feel reluctant to mingle with foreigners in Tokyo... Well, I know how lazy I am. I'd like to get out of this "lukewarm water"... I don't want to be "a frog in lukewarm water".

3. Risk hedge. Japanese economy is not in a good state. Japanese economy is still stuck in "capitalist economy" where the manufacturing industry dominates, while other advanced countries like US is moving toward "knowledge economy", which Peter Drugger once mentioned. Life as a IT engineer in Japan is not so enjoyable, to say the least. That's because the Japanese society does not recognize how important IT engineers are and does not know how to treat them with an appropriate respect.In the meantime, Japanese politics is simply pathetic. Politicians does not seem to have any passion to show their vision toward the future of Japan. It is unwise to keep living here without preparation to "escape" Japan when it is needed. Even though I do have some patriotic affection toward Japan as a man who were born in this country, I also have obligation to protect lives of myself and my family members.

I will start preparing moving soon. First, I need to study how to get and keep American visas. Also, I need to brush up my English again.

Your (psychological) support will be greatly appreciated!!