Of Diorshow mascaras and ads

So I had a nice lunch with one of my favourite PR people, something I do often so I can understand the state of the game. The game is PR and media interaction – something I enjoy more than not.

There are many public relations outfits in Malaysia, and I make a point to try and spend time with reps who understand what PR means. It’s not about kissing my boots or cringing when I yell at them for asking me if I’ve received their faxes. It’s about them understanding what message their clients are trying to put across and helping me understand or at the very least, interpret them correctly.

I tagged along to a Christian Dior function. Rarely do I get invites to non-tech events and it was fun celebrity watching at the Diorshow Iconic Mascara launch. Ning Baizura was there as well as past and current beauty queens while the super chirpy Marion Caunter played emcee. And there were Nuffnangers galore!

Dior claims its Diorshow Iconic mascara is so much the bomb that you don’t need a separate lash curler to get longer, lush lashes. To test that out, I took these before and after pictures for your benefit.

Before: No makeup, just my droopy panda eyes.

nomas Scary, hor?

After: Concealer, powder, liner and heaps of Diorshow Iconic Mascara.

dior Even Paris commented on the stunning difference you could see after a few swipes of the Dior mascara.

My personal take? Well, I think it works a treat for those with shorter lashes that are stubborn about curling. You want volume and length? The Diorshow Iconic delivers. But I wasn’t crazy about how the mascara actually felt on my lashes because I prefer the lighter feel of my L’oreal Telescopic mascara. I already have long thick lashes but my eyes water easily, so I need something that doesn’t clump much, separates my lashes without my needing to resort to an eyelash comb and yet highlighted my big panda peepers.

clean More natural, certainly not as dramatic as Diorshow. But I like, so there.

In other news, am experimenting with ads on the site. I doubt I’ll earn much but hey, every little bit helps. Recessions yada yada pancake. But no, there will be no pop-ups, pop-unders or my endorsing anything I don’t personally think rocks my socks. Here’s to my finally giving in and joining the monetising bandwagon. Sigh.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Refugees – only finding home

et Working for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) literally saved my life. I’d been diagnosed with clinical depression, and struggled with thoughts of suicide and the side effects of my medication.

It helped put my own sorrow in perspective to be surrounded by those who had lost so much – home, family and a sense of belonging. My half-year stint there tested the limits of my empathy and compassion; for that I’ll always be grateful to the refugees and my wonderful colleagues at Bukit Petaling.

But to a lot of people, refugees are considered the human equivalent of vermin.

Parasites. Burdens. Potential criminals.

Go home.

We don’t want you here.

Malaysians are just as guilty of mistreating or even patently ignoring the plight of these ‘unwanted guests’ of ours.

Do you know that our police regularly beat or extort refugees for money? That our immigration officials have no qualms about dumping migrants at the border or deporting them where they face imprisonment or torture?

Refugees all long for a place called home, and given the choice would not leave their homelands. They flee and find refuge elsewhere because they simply have no choice.

Knowing my passion for refugee causes, Irene helpfully pointed me over to the latest Bloggers Unite endeavour. Today, November 10, bloggers from all over are helping spread awareness about refugee issues.

unite

Kudo as well to Angelina Jolie for using her star power to get publicity for the UNHCR.

107mnunangelinajolieb400

If you’ve got spare change, why not donate to the UNHCR online? And yes, I put my money where my mouth is and have been donating for the past year. Autodebit for the win. Even the boyfriend’s asked me just how he can donate to the cause as well.

Even if you don’t personally donate to the UNHCR or aren’t up to volunteering time to the cause, at least be informed. Understand that refugees are merely displaced individuals who cannot remain in their countries, due either to war or the threat of persecution for political/religious/racial status or views.

Malaysia still refuses to ratify the UN Refugee Convention, and when not locking them up in detention camps, letting our policemen harass and harm them, pretends they don’t exist.

I hope you won’t. Because in our uncertain political climate, who knows if you’ll know someone who might find himself running for his life to another country. It could be your priest. Your local social worker. Your father, mother, brother, sister. And perhaps, it could even be you.

Tricking out my Windows Live Writer

Zemanta snap in Windows Live Writer

One requirement (OK, maybe a strong suggestion) to blog at Blorge is to use Windows Live Writer. At first, I found the tool rather unwieldy but after a while, the tool’s rather grown on me.

Think a stripped down version of Microsoft Word, but optimised for blogging. It also takes the pains of uploading via Movable Type’s sluggish image upload interface away, allowing you to preview how images look on your page. I’ve grown so fond of WLW that I now use it to update my personal blogs as well as Blorge.

I’ve only recently discovered the joys of adding plugins to WLW and one of my favorites is Zemanta.

Zeman-huh? It’s this cool app that suggests pictures, tags or links to add to your blogposts.There are even plugins for WordPress, Drupal and of course, add-ons for your favourite browsers. I think Zemanta’s a work of genius, frankly. It saves you time Googling the Web for links and helps round out your posts by letting you see related links.

Besides the coolness of Zemanta, I’ve added video and Twitter plugins too. WLW comes with built-in support for tags as well and as far as blogging tools go, I haven’t seen anything that comes quite close to what WLW can do and for the best price: free.

*Note: the image I used in the post is actually snipped with Windows Vista’s handy Snip tool. I can’t believe I haven’t been aware it existed. *

Technorati Tags: ,

Blogs overwhelming – the end of the multiple blog experiment

After barely a few weeks of attempting to keep multiple blogs, have decided to just stick to this one…and a separate blog for Warhammer Online. That’s because I don’t really want to bore people with my online gaming journal. It does make more sense to just consolidate all my interests in a single blog rather than attempt to spread myself too thin.
I think perhaps I’ve been influenced by reading too much problogging propaganda and forgotten why I have a website in the first place. It’s nice to have readers. It’s great to have people randomly drop by and comment; I like the attention and I like the opportunities being online creates.
But my vanity and energy has its limits.
It’s nice to have an audience but blogging is supposed to free you up from giving too much a damn about your audience. The SEO experts would say no! You must make sure your content is targetted! That you maximise your visibility, make posts easily picked up by search engines and news aggregators!
I’m not giving a damn anymore.
This is my blog, after all. I’ll write what I like, when I like. And the people who liked reading what I wrote in the first place will stick around. Hopefully.

Stumbling on secrets

Traversing the Internet on a whim (I am awesome at creative procrastination), I decided to Google my father’s name. Well, I found a few blogs detailing my family tree.

The last thing i honestly care about is my genealogy. Seriously.

But I’m a compulsive Web digger. After all, I boasted in university that “if it’s on the Web, I can find it.” So far I’ve lived up to that idle boast but now it’s no longer an achievement. The question now isn’t what’s on the Net, but what’s not.

I peer, I hunt, I slip and slide with Google’s algorithms and I find a few scattered accounts on various sites, his IC number and finally the jackpot – his blog.

Yes, my father has a ‘secret’ blog. Well, dad, you really shouldn’t have linked to it on your social networking site profile. It’s anonymous and it has links to quite a few other blogs including our ex-PM’s. Ah, my father is still Tun M’s man after all these years.

He doesn’t blog anything personal – it’s all politics and current affairs. There’s the odd photo here and there, commentaries on religion and a few links.

But I read this one post where he waxed about books and mentioned one that left a lasting impression on him, to the point he remembers where and when he read it decades ago.

And it just happens to be my favourite book…which I never knew my father had read.

Well, I guess I really am my father’s daughter, after all. 

Dad’s articulate and he even talks about how much he loves prose. It’s also disturbing that we share the same opinion of Anwar. Won’t say the exact words because I know someone will bloody Google it and find his blog. But if someone does find the URL, it’s not going to be me who leads them to it, Dad.

We’re so alike in a lot of ways, but despite us both being somewhat proficient with the written word, we’re horrible at saying what we mean to the other person in real-life. There’s always this awkwardness, this odd discomfort and the long, stony silences when I’m with him.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s because talking to each other is too much like talking to one’s self. And despite our rather introverted natures, we both love to talk…to other people.

I love my father. He’s my personal yardstick for integrity, the gold standard for morals. He’s everything you wish a politician was, but honestly could never be. A truly good man could not survive politics and all its Machiavellian manoeuvrings. And I hope one day, that at least people know my father was a good man who raised a good woman.

And so I keep hoping.

Different faces, different blogs

foolingMucked about a bit with GIMP, and thanks to this tutorial I have a fun sketch-copy of one of my photos. But I spent most of Saturday learning how widgets work in Movable Type and damn, if I wish there was better documentation. Poring through all the pages on MovableType.org just made my head hurt. I miss how easy it was to skin my pages with WordPress but I don’t miss the mountains of spam or how easy it was to bork something and lock myself out of my own WP install.
The rest of you WP users : be ye not so stupid as this one.
And the result of my figuring out where all my theme files and how widgets work? I now have a blogroll, some nifty badges as well as my Twitter feeds and Facebook profile.
Once I got my blog all shiny and pimped (as far as my mediocre web design skills allow), I felt there was still something left to do.
So I created another blog.
Another one, you say? But all the other ones died slow, painful deaths!
The rationale is that despite embracing my ‘finger in every pot’ personality, I think my blog’s nature is rather schizophrenic. I mean, everything’s here – the books I read, the movies I watch, my personal views, my political rants and all that rather drowns out everything else I’m into – like tech, gaming, machinima and other random pursuits of geekiness.
I guess I just feel frustrated that not everything I’m into gets enough airing in this blog so I decided to just move my geek rants over to geek.ernamahyuni.com. Since this experiment might just end up like my short-lived Aggromonkey,com, I decided not to get another URL as yet. So let’s see if I can keep maintaining two blogs (my LJ doesn’t count as that’s one’s hardly updated beyond the odd emo rant) as well as contributing to The Mag’s blog, and the Tech & iPhoneTouch sections at Blorge.com.
Not that I won’t geek out here on occasion. Like I might say something like this:
ZOMG Six Apart added me to their Twitter feed! O.O
True statement. But hey, not like that’s going to stop me from writing about MT. At this point, I think I’ve become quite the Movable Type evangelizer. I love their TypePad anti-spam plugin which makes Akismet look like a baby padlock next to a garrison of guns, make them BFGs who will smite all ye spammers…sorry, that was the caffeine talking.
Why bother with multiple blogs? Aren’t they a hassle?
I guess I just wanted to give all my sides a good airing. See, I took Irene with me to a buka puasa the other day (one of my colleagues couldn’t make it at the last minute) and she noted not once, but twice that she saw different sides of me.
First, she saw me playing all nice and diplomatic with the PR reps. “Ah, now I see your slick side.” I never realised I put on a different play-face for PR people. Is that true, David Lian?
Then she sat in on a rather involved discussion I was having with two MIMOS reps on the state of programming and IT education in the country. Irene never thought I was that informed and knowledgeable on IT syllabuses, joint programs between vendors and institutions of higher learning, market demand and the like. Which rather depressed me. Do most people assume I know little about the industry, how it works and what it needs?
Yeah, yeah, a pity party of one it turned out.
Rather than mope and carry on about people not knowing what I know or what I can do, why not just blog about what I care about? If I’ve passion enough to care, that should be plenty fuel for blog posts.
So off I go to post to my, you know, other blog.

How tech journalism has failed you

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?  

As if I haven’t enough to do already

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?

How you kill the blogosphere – with money

I’ve said time and time again that our blogosphere has a dearth of quality, original content. My search for a credible, original tech voice certainly proves it.

Was looking for a tech blogger to work with me on a project. So I trawled PPS, Googled, ask for referrals from people in the know and came to these conclusions about a lot of so-called local tech bloggers:

1. Half can’t spell. Or construct paragraphs without at least three grammatical errors.
2. Half can’t choose original blog templates and instead copy their compatriots’. Same subject matter, same blog template, what is going to differentiate you from everyone else?
3. Some think blogging is copying press releases or linking to them.
4. Half copy another blog’s writing style and come off sounding like advertorials.

And instead of celebrating technology, reveling in innovation, proving useful sources, 70 percent of them are doing it just for the money.

Part of that is because blogging can be a potential revenue stream. Doesn’t help that paid bloggers share the love with other bloggers and talk about how so-and-so ad company paid them XXX money for an advertorial. "Wah, you know so-and-so just sits at home making money from blogging one ah?"

And they all want to get on the blogging bandwagon. They all feel entitled to get paid ludicrous amounts of money to say the exact same thing another blogger is saying.

No, you can’t throw stones at me because hey, look, no ads on my site. Not now, probably never will be.

You guys have it good right now but how long is the cash cow going to last? Seriously, you can’t call a blog much of a blog if it’s nothing but paid advertorials one after another.

Now, there’s another kind of paid blogger I do respect. The ones who are hired to write for big networks like b5media who get paid per post. No, not to pimp stuff on PayPerPost but write actual news on niche subjects, getting paid for relevant and read-worthy stuff.

Like the guys on WoW Insider. Or Engadget. Or my personal favourite, The Register. People on those big network sites are paid anything from US$5 to $15 per post. Posts that reflect news or opinions, not just pimping advertisers.

Tech blogger Robert Scoble has ads but not ZOMG A MILLION OF THEM WHEREVER THEY MAY FIT. 

So please, Malaysian bloggers, don’t just read each other’s posts and ape them. Try coming up with your own ideas, your own niche and not some SEO crap.

This is a public service message from someone sick of all the crap on PPS.

The perils of blogging

I really haven’t been motivated to post much lately. Blogging seems to be a danger to your health, your sanity, your credibility and your reputation. Especially if you move in the cliquish Malaysian blogosphere.

What irks me sometimes is the assumption that just because you read someone’s blog, you know the blogger.

No, you don’t.

A blog shows certain facets of a person. But it’s not an accurate representation of the whole of a person.

Don’t you think a blog could just be an elaborate fabricated facade? The cute, pink, with hearts and bunnies blog template might mask the heart of an evil bunny killer who laughs manically at books like The Bunny Suicides.

OK, the Bunny Suicides makes me laugh maniacally, but that’s besides the point.

It’s just the nature of our blogosphere. We like it. We like playing judge and jury, sentencing virtual strangers to the noose. Giving them neither the benefit of the doubt, nor the ability to defend themselves. And then we laugh at the destruction, we jeer at their anguish, we take pride in their tattered reputations.

Makes me just want to hop over to Livejournal, make all my entries friends-only and never bother making my thoughts or feelings public.

I guess all I can do is stick to what this site’s about. Earnestly saying what I think or feel, and not pander to the circus. It’s annoyed me that I’ve had lurkers visiting in the hope that I will stir some new crap to entertain them with.

Was talking to Irene about it and she agreed that this constant caution, the fear that someone might make too much out of what we post, rather dulls the urge to blog. I’m still here. Still writing. Still caring about what I write. And maybe, just maybe, that’s all that matters.