b Influential

May 24

Fried Chicken…From USA to Brussels

Sergio Garcia would invite Tiger Woods for fried chicken, that’s racist because people from “The South”, and are black, love fried chicken. Whites in that part of the world like fried chicken too. So, he’s either racist against all people from The South or subtlety targeting blacks. Hard to tell in the middle of this stormy tea cup.

George O’Grady who runs the European Golf Tour wades in suggesting that it is widely known Sergio is friends with “coloured athletes”. You can’t say coloured, although we did use that term until the 1980s not realising we were racist. Actually I can understand that one, black and brown people aren’t coloured as much as whites aren’t bleached, although not all agree. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colored

My guess is that Sergio was trying to be a smart ass and not racist, to be fair Tiger Woods can look after himself so I am not worried about the victim here.

To finish this piece of fried chicken, I was eating out last night in an area of Brussels called La Chasse. There’s a fried chicken restaurant there called resto Kendy which looks quite shabby, but there’s a story. KFC opened 4 locations many decades ago in Brussels including in La Chasse, they failed but the lady who ran it kept the grills and fryers and recipe, so if you want KFC in Brussels you know where to go. Link is in French. http://www.lalibre.be/economie/entreprise-emploi/article/576529/les-secrets-du-resto-kendy.html

May 22

Delon Armitage waves. So what?

My father said of Delon Armitage’s wave to Clermont’s number 10 during the Heineken Cup Final, “that’s not rugby”. Another friend said “he has no class”, much of the critique followed along these lines. The argument being that it goes against the values of the game. These values or “laws” apparently go way back to when rugby was a middle class game with etiquette forged in the public schools of England and on the military playing fields of an empire. 

But wait a minute, in my experience rugby often deals up worse that this and we brush over that pretty quickly. A few simple, sometimes personal examples…

1. I was bitten by a player from Soignies RFC and in my resulting attempt to extricate him off my arm by punching him, they received a penalty and won the game

2. On a number of occasions rugby players have been fined and banned for shoving their thumbs into players eyes (gouging) or into other players arse holes (arsing?)

3. Bloodgate happened, i.e. the faking of blood injuries to make tactical substitutions

4. Brian O’ Driscoll had his collar broken in a spear tackle when two All Blacks deliberately targeted him because of the threat he posed

5. Ronan O’Gara was nearly beaten to death by an Australian player when pinned onto the ground; his face resembled that of a boxer after 12 rounds AND…

6. We are, essentially, a homophobic sport, arguably this is less of a problem now but few rugby players would be honest about their sexuality until after their career is over. Please prove me wrong here.

So wavy Delon and swan divey Chris, don’t worry too much, you’re young men, and not breaking any laws but your “betters” do.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8PetDjG7ME

Jan 05

Mom’s iphone terms to son…My response

An American blogger mother got a lot of attention for giving her son an iphone with a “contract” and a bunch of conditions. http://tinyurl.com/az74og4 It really irked me…

I’m lucky. I too have a 13 year old and also gave him an iphone. I told him to keep it safe, charged and if he’s mugged hand it over. That’s it, the rest he learns himself and like normal human/technology interaction he’ll learn his limits and our expectations. I thought American mom’s contract with her son was so overbearing and interfering it made me want to write a response…See comments underneath, her “terms” are numbered my comments are CAPITALISED. 

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?

THATS NOT A GIFT. 

2. I will always know the password.

UNTIL HE’S HOW OLD? MY SON DOESN’T HAVE ONE. 

3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad.” Not ever.

NO GROWN UP EVER FOLLOWS THIS, WHY SHOULD A KID?

4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00 pm It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

WTF? HE’S 13 NOT 5 YEARS OF AGE. 

5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.

YET AGAIN, WHY TREAT HIM DIFFERENTLY TO ADULTS. OF COURSE BRING IT TO SCHOOL AND KEEP IT SWITCHED OFF. 

6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.

NOT FAIR. IN CONDITION 1 YOU SAID ITS YOUR PHONE. WEAK CONTRACT. 

7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

OMG, DOES THIS NEED TO BE IN A PHONE CONTRACT?

8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

OK

9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.

DEAR OH DEAR. 

10. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person — preferably me or your father.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. ALL TEENAGERS LOOK FOR PORN. EXPLAIN TO HIM THAT PORN IS NOT REAL LIFE. PREVENTING THEM ACCESS IT IS A LOST CAUSE. HE”LL LEARN TO BURN HIS SEARCH DATA. 

11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

GOOD MANNERS ARE GOOD. 

12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear - including a bad reputation.

AMEN, SAME DEAL WITH LAPTOPS

13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

LET HIM BE HIMSELF, IF HE IS MANIACAL PICTURE TAKER SO BE IT. HE’S AN INDEPENDENT PERSON, JEEZ.

14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO (fear of missing out).

AND THEN YOU WANT TO CONTACT HIM AND HE DOESN’T HAVE IT. THIS CONTRACT NEEDS A LAWYER

15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.

DON’T LIVE YOUR LIFE THROUGH YOUR SON. MAYBE HE LIKES DAVID GUETTA. 

16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

HE’S A BOY, GIVE ME A BREAK.

17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.

EH, OK.

18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together. It is my hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.

YOU GAVE HIM A PHONE AND ALL THIS STUFF TO DIGEST, IF I WAS HIM I’D SAVE UP FOR AN ANDROID AND WATCH PORN AND DO WHAT HE WANTS. 

Sep 10

First triathlon on a budget

I completed an Olympic triathlon i.e. 1500 metres swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. Triathlons are expensive, because you need special equipment, but assuming most people have running shoes and a bicycle helmet, it can be done for less than €500 including buying the bike.

Training costs tend to be very cheap for cycling and running, most people have access to an outdoor space or are a maybe a member of a gym. Swimming is more expensive but public pools tend to cost 2.50-4 (at least in Belgium) so overcrowding not cost is the main consideration.  

TRAINING

I started training at the end of May for a September 9th triathlon. I was reasonably fit after a season of rugby and occasional jogging. The swimming was generally awkward and although I did around 10 sessions in the pool, the best part was when I found outdoor swimming in Rutselaar (Belgium) which had 125 metre lengths marked out, that was really helpful but I only went there 3 times because we found it at the end of the training period. I did approximately 20 runs from 5km - 20km. I also did 15 cycles with distances of 10km - 40km. I only tried cycling and running together once and it was useful. CLEARLY what I prepared for was to finish a triathlon not get a great time!

KIT AND OTHER COSTS 

- Surfing body suit €30 – Decathlon

- Bicycle €300 – Decathlon “Hybrid” (note a racing bike is also €300 but not sturdy). You can use this bike day to day. Advice: Can you buy a second hand racing bike for same or similar budget? Then do so! http://www.decathlon.be/btwin-forme-3-id_8188895.html

— Shorts €10 – worn underneath the surf suit and used to cycle and run, with a “lycra” feel

—- Running top €20 – they come cheaper, even as low as €5 but €20 is a nice balance of budget and quality

—- Swim training €50 – that was three sessions in a lake and 15 sessions in a public pool

—- Event €50 – Triathlon Huy (Belgium)

Total = 460


EVENT 

It was on the 9th of September in Huy, Belgium. It was a scorching 28 degrees, which was scary. The swim was a “floating start” and was beautiful seeing 230 bobbing white hats. It took me less than 40 minutes, there it was clear that my less than optimal suit wasn’t that big a problem. Most people did have proper cold water swim suits that cost 100-300 and my friend swore it made a big difference to her and also swimming behind someone helped immensely. Coming out of the water was bizarre, my legs gave way, so I think it is very important you train the transition from water to cycle (I didn’t). If you can afford a triathlon suit under your swim suit, then pay for it, it will save you 30 seconds to a minute on the transition.

The first transition I plodded slowly to my number where the bike was and was so tired I struggled at first to take off the swim suit and then to put on my running vest. It also took a minute to put on my running shoes.  

The cycle was incredibly difficult, around a quarter of the course was on hills meaning at least 5-6km of climbing. On my heavy bike I suffered, but even so, people where comfortably taking me over on the flat. BUT it got me to the next transition where one of the guys said I had done well with “that bike”

The next transition and run was non-eventful and slow. The only part that was problematic was getting food into me and drinking, I see why people bring energy tubes. Normally I can do 10km in under 50minutes but it was more like 65 minutes this time. Here’s the rub. If you have a better bike the run will be easier, simply you may have more energy after a less traumatic cycle. 

In the end, I finished! My total time was just over 3 hours 30 minutes. It was an elite race so I was at the back of the field. I know I can do better, but I will need to invest more money into equipment and do longer swim and cycling training but that’s OK…

Jun 20

Alexia turns on her Klout

Oh LeWeb I miss you, and me in the cheapest seats watching a stream of an interview between Alexia Tsotsis and Joe Fernandez from Klout. The chat afterwards online was how she broiled Joe and Klout and then topped it off with an ask to the audience…That ask proved only 5 were users of the service, yeah right, here’s how I see it. 

- She’s pretty hot, those heels were awesome and the chemistry between her and Loic was ahem “steaming”

- She asked a few decent questions, but was lame on the whole “people are influential on strange topics” (although on the money with +K)

- Joe is a nice guy sitting on a super fast growing start-up and he’s scared

- Klout can be arbitrary but its an improvement on the real shite from 2008-2010

- Klout shouldn’t fall into the trap that Techcrunch is their customer, they are not. Its losers like me. We want free stuff. Hey everyone does. Some people tell me they want respect from Klout, jeez. Give me free stuff. Get in touch with advertisers and make sure they get loads of samples and coupons and prizes and upgrades and then turn Klout into currency. Listen, actors love free stuff, politicians love free stuff, Klout is democratising that (a little)…Get those deals done and make the score kind of fair, like life, not totally fair…

- 5 people in the audience use Klout? No way! Klout was there because Loic knows its a dirty secret. Plenty use it, some hate themselves for caring, but hey, lets move on, people use it and will keep using it. And like crappy Nielsen TV ratings Klout is winning the name war and that is what matters, so don’t screw it up Joe, OK ;) 

Anyway, good job Loic, you are the entrepreneur master of events, a class act from Europe, cool…

May 24

Facebook is a binary stock

I don’t know if Facebook is overvalued right now, it seemed a stretch at $100Billion and has been “corrected”, but then Google used to trade at many times sales also. Cisco was once worth nearly 5 times that (that WAS overvalued). 

What is true (for sure), is that Facebook is a risky stock. But risky in both directions. Three years ago, the business had hardly any sales, it is now selling 3,700 million dollars per year and growing. It was a megatastic war chest of cash and a brand name that spits in the face of most other online properties. 

http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/screen-shot-2012-05-03-at-3-07-16-pm.png?w=640

So - some heads will roll at Facebook for the IPO fiasco and disclosure baloney, they’ll first be unfriended in the media and then blocked by Facebook, but their egos will be massaged with millions they made. And, the business will go on…

Facebook will or will not dominate social networks and related advertisements/ gaming and music for the next decade. If you think it will BUY, if you think it  won’t, SELL…take your pick

May 11

Die Hard and fund allocation

In the first Die Hard movie, the nasty Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) is trying to get his hands on $640Million in non-negotiable bearer bonds. Being a nerd I wanted to know how he would have allocated this money across the group. There were 13 gang members in total.

I assumed the idea and formulation of the team was Gruber’s, further I assume he is thinking longer term and rationally. Still, he would want the largest piece of the action not a fair share, he would argue that he brings them into this lucrative deal. He may want up to half but this might seem too much to the group so he would tactically settle for more like 40%, but rounding it nicely at $250Million (39.0625%). There are two specialist roles, the computer guy and the head hard man (Godunov). They would get a extra piece of the proceeds. I feel they would have been OK with $50 Million (7.8125%) each. This means that the remaining $290 Million is spread amongst the 10 others or $29Million (4.53125%) each. 

Its a dangerous task, so they know some may not come back. Assuming they know that this is live and receive or die and get nothing, how to distribute the money if they don’t survive? Basically the only way to this is take the amount that the person would have received i.e. $250Million, $50Million or $29Million and spread amongst all the survivors equally. 

A further danger is retrieving only partial proceeds, some amount is destroyed or left at the scene. In this case the amount would be spread by % i.e. 39.0625% - 7.8125% and 4.53125% and if there were a few that didn’t make it then we are back to the amounts being spread across the group as before. 

In the end they all died or were arrested :)

Apr 27

Donald Trump, red herrings and wind farms

Donald Trump doesn’t care about wind farms. The bloody things are miles away from his golf course and the argument against them is ridiculous. What Donald Trump loves, and is good at, is negotiating and PR.

One assumes this non-issue between environmentalists and Trump INC will create the PR he wants, the camera will focus longingly on the sandy golf course and facilities, driving lust among those that love white balls and Scotland, or just Scotland or just white balls. 

But negotiation? What’s that about? I don’t know, but once he was rumoured to have dropped his demands to name a tower after his father to get something else he wanted, at no stage was that even on the table, but he got what he wanted. I am sure there is something else he will ask for, some consideration for his future development that will come his way if he drops his wind farm objections. He doesn’t care about wind farms, no matter what he says ;)  

Apr 25

Facebook buys YouTube, why not?

So. The IHT has a wonderful article on Peter Thiel (founder PayPal, early shareholder Facebook). His life could have been different if he hadn’t failed to get a key legal position, instead he starts PayPal and the rest is billions of dollars of glorious history. His thinking is, people confuse capitalism with competition, sure there are overlaps but beating the other guy isn’t always best. Finding “creative monopolies” is what you should do. Not the Mr. Burns nuclear plant monopoly but creatively finding niches where you can prosper at least for a while, like Facebook has OR Pinterest will OR Google did. They never tried to kill their opposition, they just were more creative for long periods of time in growing new industries. 

Now. Google is poor at social networking. They really are. But they own YouTube which is growing and social. Still, they want to focus their efforts on Google +, a foolishness which will run its course soon. What they may want to do is to work on those platforms that still make a lot of money, and stretch them into  mobile and build on the world of opportunity that exists in local commerce and connected advertising. 

Then. They they could sell their assets that are really social networks that they will never have the DNA to grow and monetise properly. Say Facebook then buys YouTube for $10Billion+ in shares and cash, they get the video piece, they get the social network and they get the next generation and a super high valuation. Google gets out profitably and focuses on what they are good at. Why not?

Apr 12

Google’s real social network chance…YouTube

I have a son. I am particularly proud of him, he’s funny, good at sports and a bit of a geek. He loves Minecraft and other online games, he has now been online for a decade, since the nice Malaysian girl Anu showed him cBBC in 2002 at the break out room in my MBA school. It’s in his blood, this internet thing, he knows how to edit and upload videos and make connections with others in the Internetesphere (yes we monitor this). He reached “majority” recently (13) and now the fun will probably really begin…

His online habits made me think. We all joke about how Google+ is for Google employees, i.e. no one really uses it unless their bonus is connected to it. Strange given that numerous twitter conversations would be better held there, but resistance to change is always there, n’est pas. And Google plows zillions into making work and work it won’t (unless they buy Twitter, but that’s a different story).

But, Google sits on top of a beautiful and crazy social network already. It’s YouTube. Kids frequently feel freer there and if they aren’t the creative uploading types they can still subscribe and comment, basically connecting with those they like. 

My son has a channel, his most recent piece on YogVentures hit 7,500 views… Frankly he treasures a new subscriber 100 times more than a new Facebook friend! So, why doesn’t Google spend more time there, making that a more social network and the kids (who don’t care that Google is “evil”) can connect there, and grow up there, and their parents will be none the wiser and not in the picture. And, do you think people will leave their channel when they have worked to get their 100 subscribers and they can even earn pocket money…they’ll never leave…trust me…