Archive | August, 2008

Those eggs – not in one basket, please!

29 Aug

dilbert.jpg

Dilbert and good career advice? They don’t seem to go together but Scott Adams has some wise words for those who intend to get ahead in life.

Either:
1. Become the best at one specific thing OR
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

That might sound simplistic or defeat the whole notion of being a ‘specialist’ to get ahead. Yes, career-wise, being a jack of all trades doesn’t make you indispensable – but only if you’re mediocre at all the many things you ‘know’.

You can do technical writing – but is it good technical writing or creative massaging of copy-and-pasted text? You can speak a few languages but can you converse in them or only know how to order specific dishes (I plead guilty to that when it comes to Cantonese)?

I can do a lot of things – but I don’t claim to do them all well. So I can write and have the potential to do better (that’s why it’s an awesome skill to have if you even have a smidgen of talent). But what else is there?

Sadly, I don’t think scaring PR n00bs on the phone is a marketable skill. I will go back and attempt to pick up one of the essential skills for world domination.

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A journalism soap opera, courtesy of The Star

26 Aug

Today my brain attempted to leap out of my head. In protest.

It was likely upset at being forced to read the following piece:
Sneak peek into journalism

Yes, The Star, our local newspaper is going into television. But seriously, a suspense drama called Frontpage? And it produced the storyline as well for the 13 episode series.

“We wanted to share with our readers the tough decisions and hard work that go into the making of a newspaper.” By producing a drama. Right.

If they tried that with tech journalism, I highly doubt it would count for high drama. More likely it would end up as high comedy.

Picture this scenario for a tech mag show. Let’s call it Byte Me.

Pilot Episode: Peter Lim finds himself editor of an ailing tech magazine with the tough job of getting subscriptions and ad revenue up, as well as pleasing the nitpicky ten people who spend all their time posting on the magazine’s forums.

Then he finds out an ex-flame will also be joining the firm as sales manager. Then there’s rival magazine editor Thomas Damien who’s out for blood due to a long-standing feud with Peter’s publisher and aims to settle the score through any means necessary. Will Peter succeed? Or is he doomed to spend the rest of his life writing copy for the Yellow Pages?

Episode 1: The Stock Check
Company X&Y has called up, asking for review items they expected back weeks ago. But Peter wasn’t hired yet when the items were around and has no idea where they are now as there is no documentation. Not to mention his ex-girlfriend/current sales manager is unhappy with his pagination and demands he adjust the ad/copy ratio. Will Peter find the missing items? Will his salesperson see reason? Or will his publisher just fire them both because they’re still under probation?

Episode 2: Dirty Talking
After Peter’s magazine scores an exclusive advertising deal with company JiloJilo, murky rumours abound of how the deal was secured. How will Peter stave off sordid rumours involving his sales manager, a photocopy machine and lots of thermal paste? To top that off, his lead designer’s threatening to leave the company unless he gets either a pay increase or ‘get the blardy sales to stop bothering me day and night, can or not?’

I suspect my talents do not lie in TV screenplays. Alas. 

A time and place for everything

25 Aug

I always have people wondering why I’ve managed to survive a 4-year long distance relationship.

There’s a time and place for all things. And I’ve found that our notions of when we want things to happen don’t often tally with God’s time. So I’m not getting married this year. Likely not the next. Or the year after that. We’ll get there eventually and likely people we know won’t get word until the very last minute.

We do know that we can’t imagine growing old with anyone else.
Like, most people of my acquaintance (ex-fiances included) quake at my temper.
Boyfriend thinks it’s amusing and rather cute when I do my X-Men Storm impression. While kicking him in the shins, nonetheless.
Definitely a keeper.

Of course, my personal notion would be to post a “We’re Married, Bitches!” sign on the site. But boyfriend would find that impolite. And his mother doesn’t surf the Net and wouldn’t appreciate being called a bitch.

Perhaps I’ve posted this before but this Mike and Mechanics song has been a mainstay of my teenage years, a reminder to be patient when things aren’t working out the way I thought.
If something isn’t happening right now, perhaps God is just creating a space for other things to happen. That his plans, his notions, his dreams for me are better than anything I could ever contemplate.

So I’ll trust. And I’ll wait. Instead of just longing for a distant speck in the future, I’ll do well to remember that right here, right now, I am loved.

Time and Place (lyrics courtesy of houseofmanyrooms.com)

There’s a time and place
For you to make your mark and show your face
There’s a place in time
When you must step outside the line

So understand what I mean
There is a time and place for you to have your dream
But here and now may not be
The time and place for you and me
You and me

It’s the finest line
A missed opportunity or the perfect time
You must not despair
You’ll recognise it when you’re there

So understand what I mean
There is a time and place for you to have your dream
But here and now may not be
The time and place for you and me

The time and place for you and me
There’s a time and there’s a moment you will see
Don’t lower your expectations
There are no limitations
There’s a time and place for you and me

So understand hard as it seems
There is a time and place for you to have your dreams
Though here and now may not be
The time and place for you and me
You and me

How tech journalism has failed you

24 Aug

Bloghopping from POP!PR Jots to Jeff Pulver to Scobleizer, I think about my own little existential crisis. Four years at The Mag and again I’m reassessing my values and my priorities.

My friends know I have these ‘spasms’ very frequently – the whole ‘Why am I here? What am I doing? How is what I’m doing helping the world?’ gets replayed every year. 

And then I read Scoble’s Has/How/Why tech blogging has failed you and I realise how much it relates to my job.

“I realized that I’m at fault for some of why tech blogging has failed
you and was thinking that I’d done too much of the “business talk” and
not enough of the “let’s discover something that’ll improve our lives
together” talk.”

I wonder to myself what I’ve done wrong as a journalist, where I’ve failed to put what was important first – my readers.

Yes, I could start a long diatribe about how advertisers push Malaysian media into writing what they want, treating journalists like paid copywriters instead of objective purveyors of news. But then, it’s our own fault for letting them treat us that way. We surrendered our backbones to the whims of Big Business and it’s our own fault our credibility’s shattered.

I wanted to inform, educate, excite people about what makes technology such an exciting field to be in. But instead I spent more time worrying about deadlines, battling office politics, mollycoddling my contributors, fending off detractors and demanding clients than my content.

Why complain when things are the way they are? Why keep highlighting the bad, the depressing, the downright sordid?

I guess what I need is a new perspective on what I’m doing, where I’m heading and not be stuck so much on the ‘glass is half empty’ point of view. Yes, there is a lot that sucks about the industry. Too much emphasis on the trivial and not enough on things that matter, events that could, potentially, save the world.

Scoble’s trying to make Scobleizer better. I’m going to try and be better at what I do, what I’m doing and how I do it.

Now the next question is: where do I start?  

And sometimes, the impossible happens

24 Aug

A Malay man joined the DAP. And not just anyone, but a former director of Malaysia’s chapter of Transparency International, Tunku Abdul Aziz.

This could just bring hope for the end of racial-based politics in Malaysia.

The spirit of Onn Jaafar lives on.

As if I haven't enough to do already

24 Aug

With so much on my plate, you’d think I would learn to do less, right?

Wrong.

After a late revelation about how important singing is in my life, I created a new blog (gotta love multi-blogging with Movable Type Pro). Sing, O My Soul at sing.ernamahyuni.com.

I meet a lot of people with pleasant voices who don’t have the privilege or time to go to singing classes. But singing is something that can give so much joy, that I think it’s a pity not to learn how to do it well.

The blog will chronicle my own learning experiences about my voice, learning to sing and helping another young’un along.

Yes, the student is also a teacher. I volunteered to vocal coach a young thespian friend. It’s as much a learning process for me as it is for him, really. He’s very young, very talented (at acting). A voice with a potentially lovely timbre and yet, I get this itch to help him polish it.

And why not let someone else benefit from all the experience and knowledge I gathered about vocal theory and practice?

As if I haven't enough to do already

24 Aug

With so much on my plate, you’d think I would learn to do less, right?

Wrong.

After a late revelation about how important singing is in my life, I created a new blog (gotta love multi-blogging with Movable Type Pro). Sing, O My Soul at sing.ernamahyuni.com.

I meet a lot of people with pleasant voices who don’t have the privilege or time to go to singing classes. But singing is something that can give so much joy, that I think it’s a pity not to learn how to do it well.

The blog will chronicle my own learning experiences about my voice, learning to sing and helping another young’un along.

Yes, the student is also a teacher. I volunteered to vocal coach a young thespian friend. It’s as much a learning process for me as it is for him, really. He’s very young, very talented (at acting). A voice with a potentially lovely timbre and yet, I get this itch to help him polish it.

And why not let someone else benefit from all the experience and knowledge I gathered about vocal theory and practice?