5 Tips for settling into a full time role (and you won’t believe number 3!)

(FYI, the title of this post was intentionally clickbaity for ironic purposes only.)

It’s been way too since I last posted anything here. But here goes…

Ever since I started my (not-so-new-anymore) full time job I’ve thought about the transition that a ‘young adult’ would have to make. So I’d thought I’d share my thoughts and advice for those beginning their journey into full time employment:

(Warning: This is from my experience in an office environment, but I feel like it can be applied in other types of work also.)

1) Be hungry to learn:

  • You will be one of the least experienced in the workplace in terms of knowing your role and company, but also in life.
  • This is an opportunity to be a sponge. Be curious, listen, and try to understand as much as possible.
  • Put together the pieces of how to be a valued member of your team as quickly as possible i.e. What are people looking for?
    hungry-person

2) Establishing a network:

  • From the person out in reception, to your manager, to your colleagues and even the cleaner.
  • The people you see on a day to day basis will affect your ability to be productive and shape your career.
  • The common saying is, “It’s about who you know”, but more importantly, “It’s about who knows you, and what they know you for.”
  • Time spent away from actual work should be seen as an opportunity for these people to get to know you.
  • Going for coffee, or lunch, or a company function, these are the times to establish your network in a casual way.
    funny-handshake-men-vs-women

3) Office Politics:

  • The higher you move up, the greater complexity of relationships.
  • Regardless if you want to play office politics, it will exist in one form or another.
  • This can be both an negative an positive aspect of your work, but it would be ignorant to dismiss it’s existence all together.
  • It would be advantageous to understand people’s motivations and pain points. How they incentivised and where they fit within the office are good questions to keep in the back of your mind.
    mccain-obama

4) The future:

  • Knowing your progression options is important. Actively seek out those who have had similar experiences both within your company or in your industry in general.
  • Education is crucial for advancement, and just because you’re outside of the traditional classroom does not mean you should stop learning.
  • Seek as much feedback as possible to understand your strengths and weakness.
    funny-future-past-present-text

5) Work/Life balance:

  • Or in some cases, work/life integration. There are two main views on this:
    • 1) Work / life integration – Some people love what they do, and they live their job.
    • 2) Work / life balance – Work is a means to an end. There are boudaries, and the two are very distinct.
  • In either case, we become more time poor and looking back on my uni days, ‘free time’ was a luxury that was usually wasted. Socialising and being active with hobbies takes more organisation, planning and prioritising.
    work-life-balance

Hope you found this post help if you did, please “like”, “favourite” and “share”. Any feedback appreciated.

#TheReturn

So I stopped making any posts on here since I started full time employment, but I hope to get back to it.

You’ll still see tech related entries, but I’ve decided to include more personal pieces of writing also.

So here are some lists of things on my plate:

Life admin

  1. Tax return
  2. Clean room – and keep it clean
  3. Sort files on my desktop
  4. Budget – Pay anyone I owe money

Career

  1. Read more – books / blogs  / news
  2. Learn to program
  3. Improve public speaking
  4. Understand concepts of design

Personal

  1. Get back into going to the gym
  2. Film another dance video
  3. Plan my next travel adventure
  4. (Re-learn) Chinese

***

Short term goals

  1. Blog at least twice a week
  2. Catch up with at least one friend I haven’t seen in a while, once a week
  3. Dance once a week
  4. Ball once a week
  5. Finish reading one book once every two weeks
  6. Cook at least 4 meals each week

Works in progress

  1. Finding the person I want to spend the rest of my life with
  2. Being a better son / brother / friend
  3. Wasting less time on mindless computer games

***

Hope you join me as I share my journey through life as I provide some worthwhile reading =)

Anti-social Media

Anti Social Media

So this was a note I wrote almost a year ago on social media, or should I say anti-social media, which I’d thought I share after I did a bit of a self control exercise. I still need to stop check my phone so much, but I think I’ve gotten better.

Originally posted on 11/02/2013

So for 2 weeks I didn’t check Facebook and Twitter (…much) and I realised one thing.

I think social media, for a large proportion has made people less social in real life. It’s not a perfect substitute, because the interactions are made proxy via the internet, as opposed to direct interactions. People make the choice of using social media as a replacement (instead of a complimentary) for real world socialising, and I feel that’s changed the concept of identity for the worse unfortunately.

We are becoming more self-centered, we want social recognition… more likes, more shares, more favourites, more followers, more retweets, more favourites, more repins, more subscribers, more checkins. Because we want to feel more important, more valued… but is it done to display our value and importance to other people, or is it trying to convince ourselves? A kind of self-affirmation.

Those two weeks have made the feeling of the need to check Facebook or Twitter or Instagram go away. The smartphone has become a safety blanket for many as an excuse to do something else when a social situation that maybe uncomfortable arises. When I’m around others I’m going to try and reduce the number of times I pull out my phone, to show someone a photo on Facebook or make a Tweet. Maybe to take a photo, but I don’t want to end up like one of those people who just has their head down most of the time, looking into mobile device and missing the moments that happen if you just had your head up. I’m going to try and make a greater effort at conversing, to be engaging in the ‘old fashion way’ though real time, real life social interactions.

P.S. Happy new year and hope everyone had a good holiday! <— Obligatory

 

Evolution of Technology

Evolution of Technology
Apologies for lack of posts recently. I’ve recently started a new job, and I’m just settling in after 4 weeks (will create about this later!). So I’ve been on a reflective mood and really thinking about digital, why is it so interesting for me and the observations I can extract out of my readings and understanding. So here is my theory on…
The Evolution of Technology (In chronological order):
  1. Manual – getting anything done required hard labour.
    E.g. Walking from point A to Be with no assistance.
  2. Instrumental – still mostly hard labour but aid from a tangible tool (instruments) which needs to be manually operated.
    E.g. A walking stick to help in walking from Point A to Point B.
  3. Mechanical – think wheels, levers, gears and pulleys which outputs productivity / effort many times the amount of effort input.
    E.g. Riding a bicycle from Point A to Point B.
  4. Powered – gas, petrol, electric, steam. Utility is automated, and effort is diverted from basic operation in order to create productivity to more complex ‘control’. There is a greater amount of automation involved in technology that are powered.
    E.g. Driving a petrol powered car from Point A to Point B.
  5. Networked – where individual units of technology are able to communicate with each other and coordinate complex tasks through a connected network. This leads to a greater level of automation and which leads to more efficiency gains. Effort in day to day processes are no longer required. However back end programming is required for proper functionality.
    E.g. Riding a self driving car from Point A to Point B which is connected to the traffic network and other self driving cars.
  6. Intelligent – technology that can learn and become truly multifunctional through an iterative process without the need (or very little need) for human intervention.
    E.g. A networked vehicle that will transport you from Point A to Point B in different methods depending on circumstances such as mood of person, weather and urgency detected through sensors and machine learning.
The trends and observations following technological evolution.
  • Each stage adds a new level complexity meaning another point of failure. You wonder why everything breaks / doesn’t work its suppose to be, more often than in the past (Think Nokia 3220 vs Samsung S4 or iPhone 5)… Well there’s at least a higher chance. Not only that, but there are many more points of exploitation for people to take advantage of (i.e. Hackers).
    E.g. Networked self driving car: 1) Network failure 2) Power problem 3) Engineering Problem 4) Faulty components 
  • Following security, comes information / data. The higher the level of technology the more information is needed to be functional especially given feedback attributes allowing (re)calibration and machine learning. As data becomes more and more important the more valuable it becomes and the more necessary it is to sort and make sense of all the information.
    E.g. Think of all the factors that needs to be considered to walk from Point A to Point B unaided vs walking into a self driving car. Thus security and personal information becomes a higher consideration in ever day life.
  • Specialisation of labour becomes necessary – due the growing complexity with each layer requires an additional level of expertise. As additional layers are added it becomes increasingly difficult to have sufficient understanding of each layer i.e. understanding the whole system from level 1-6. Thus specialisation and collaboration becomes more important to be able to design, create and maintain new technologies
    E.g. Specialists in hardware / web development / networking / AI / design / manufacturing

So what do you guys think? Would love to hear some feedback and any comments.

8 Tips on Using LinkedIn and Making the Most of Your Time Job Hunting

So I recently accepted a full time job offer and it was a whirlwind of an experience.

Over a period of 5 days (Mon – Fri) I had 3 interviews that led to a verbal offer 20 minutes after the final interview. I attribute a lot of my success to LinkedIn and here is why…

Firstly, the awesome thing about this job offer was that, I was the one who was initially contacted regarding the role by a recruiter via LinkedIn. Wouldn’t it be awesome if this was the case all the time. Where you can just wait for job opportunities to fall into your lap instead of tirelessly slugging it out and doing research which may or may not be useful in the end?

There’s a saying when you’re self employed that business owners need more time to work  ON their business as opposed to IN their business. What that means, is that instead of being the person at the cash register, be the person in the back office working on promotional ideas that will generate more customers and revenue. Leave the day to day operations to someone else and take charge of the business direction. Work smarter not harder.

I feel like this is the same approach needed when job searching, for example:

Instead of spending 50 hours applying for positions, why not spend 40 hours applying and the remaining 10 on improving your resume and other profile building activities.

I think LinkedIn will only become more and more important in the future, as a potential employee’s digital profile / presence becomes increasingly scrutinised under a magnifying glass. May as well put your best foot forward and control what employers see when they look you up (and they WILL find you).

As an example, this is my LinkedIn profile. Feel free to connect with me =)

Here are my tips on using LinkedIn from my experience.

Tips / Hints on using LinkedIn

  1. Don’t have a LinkedIn Profile? Start creating one now! This is because search engines such as Bing and Google place LinkedIn profiles as highly relevant and are proritised when search results are displayed. They rank highly in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
  2. Fill out as much as possible. The more information you provide, the more likely your profile will be the number one result when your name is searched. Most of the information should be on your CV anyway so it shouldn’t take too long if you already have your CV in order.
  3. Join groups of relevant interests / professions and follow companies and people that you’d like to work for as well organisations that are within the industry you’d like to work in and industry influencers. Not only does this help you keep up to date with news and events that will help you gain industry knowledge, but LinkedIn will have a better understanding of the positions you may be interested in and suggest them to you!
  4. Make it clear that you are searching in the job market. I would suggest putting this information in your headline (see screenshot), something along the lines of “Looking for New Opportunities”. The more obvious that you’re looking, the less time a recruiter or someone from the HR department will need to find the information to determine your suitability and therefore more likely to contact you.LinkedIn Headline
  5. Connect with previous employers (if you’re on good terms with them) and ask if they can provide a recommendation on your profile. These are instant references and are particular useful if your employer’s profile is well connected and thus a credible source.
  6. Endorse other people’s skills and expertise, as people are usually happy to reciprocate the gesture. I would recommend endorsing only those who you have worked with and have seen them display those skills / expertise instead of spamming every single contact.
  7. Continually add people to your network that you have met through functions and events, as the bigger  your network the more likely there is someone who knows a key decision maker in staffing, and thus may help you land a job.
  8. Post news articles about your industry and expertise, to further increase your credibility. This also adds the benefit of continually appearing on the newsfeeds of your connections, meaning longer exposure to others (keeping your name top of mind) and a greater chance of being contacted (this can be combined with slowly adding connections and endorsing others, as these actions are all displayed on your LinkedIn newsfeed).

Got any other tips and suggestions? Leave them in the comments below.

How So Many Profiles Became Giraffes… That Stupid Giraffe Riddle

Giraffe Riddle

So there’s a new ‘viral’ post that been doing its rounds across social media, Facebook in particular, about a riddle and a giraffe. I’m not going into the debate of what the actual answer SHOULD be, but to begin things here is the giraffe riddle:

I have had to change my profile picture to a giraffe. I tried to answer a riddle and got it wrong! Try the giraffe challenge!! The deal is I give you a riddle, you get it right, you get to keep your profile picture, get it wrong and you change your profile picture to a giraffe for the next 3 days!!!

MESSAGE ME ONLY SO YOU DON’T GIVE OUT THE ANSWER!!!

Here is the riddle: it’s 3am, the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors!! It’s your parents and they are here for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese.

What is the first thing you open? Remember, only message me the answer – if you get it right I’ll post your name here, if not, I’ll message you and you’ll have to change your profile picture!

[SPOILERS: IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE ANSWER DON’T READ BELOW THIS LINE]

So there is the ‘trick’ answer which isn’t actually correct and there’s the supposed  ‘real’ answer.

Trick = ‘door’
Real = ‘eyes’

So here are my thoughts on why this post has been so viral.

And for the record: I answered ‘door’

1) 2/3 Rules of Epidemics

If you have read Malcom Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point‘ (I highly recommend this book) then you’ll know what I’m talking about. The 2 rules which this post complies with are:

i. The Stickiness Factor

  • Which means that content of a message matters, especially how ‘memorable’ it is to spur people into action.
  • This includes structure, presentation and amount of information provided
  • The riddle starts off with a ‘hook’ to get those reading it curious, and then openly encourages sharing. It is straight to the point and wastes no time in introduction or explanation.
  • The riddle also ‘sets you up’ in a pattern of thinking which has consequences

ii. The Power of Context

  • Human beings are extremely sensitive to context
  • As the Gladwell writes, ‘Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur’ (elaboration in point 2)
  • The combination of message (riddle with an actionable outcome) and medium (social media where ease of sharing is emphasised) made this riddle extremely viral

2) Human behaviour and cognition

i. Curiosity and Sense of Self Worth

As humans we are inherently curious about our surroundings. We especially enjoy the feeling right at the moment of solving a problem, otherwise known as the ‘Aha moment‘. We want to think of ourselves as intelligent individuals and this riddle sets us up to create this moment of increased self worth as we find self-validation on intelligence. The riddle sits on a fine line, where it’s not particular difficult, but the answer is not totally spelt out to you either. Or so it wants you to think.

Once we are told the ‘correct’ answer, this is meant to bring down our ego and thus comes part two of the psychological games with ‘attribution bias‘. We go along the following line of thinking:

‘It’s not that I didn’t get the correct answer (which would be an indicator of my intelligence – internal factor), it’s because the question itself was flawed (an external factor)’.

ii. Finding a Common Ground

However, because of the light-hearted nature of the ‘challenge’ we are able to go ahead and accept our ‘punishment’ of changing our profile picture to a giraffe. It’s kind of funny and also, it provides us with a little bit of attention (which nearly all of us enjoy). It also gives us a chance to bond as we seek out others who are in the same ‘predicament’ as ourselves, as an experience is ‘shared’. We don’t need to feel stupid alone, we can feel stupid together (Yay! /sarcasm) and you play an obvious hand in the ‘conversion’ of these new giraffes.

3) Ease of sharing and engagement

Due to the nature of social media such as Facebook, these sort of posts are made EXTREMELY easy to share. Copy –> Paste –> Share. The effort required is minimal but the engagement is high as likes pile up, comments are made on the post and tagging friends who failed will continually push the post up on the newsfeeds  of your friends. This means a longer half life compared to other Facebook updates and more self validation of existance. Furthermore, you can see your contact list turn into an army of giraffes which you can be proud of (as you were responsible for converting them).

So did you get tricked?

Importance of Understanding Personal Finance

One of the things which formal education seems to never effectively teach you about is understanding personal finance and its importance in financial independence. In this post I’ll try to break down the most simple concepts which everyone should know about.

Why SHOULD we care about personal finance?

Because as we grow up, we should be aiming for financial independence. There are a couple of levels of independence, but what I mean is that, we should reach a point in our lives where we won’t need to depend on anyone else for financial support and we are able to bear the cost of living through our own means without the reliance of anyone else (parents / relatives / siblings / significant others / or even an employer).

You might ask yourself , “So how is this possible?”. Well the comes from the type of income you are earning:

  • Non-passive income – You have to WORK FOR THE INCOME, and the income is dependent on the amount of hours / days /weeks / months / years you work. So this income comes from full time / part time / casual / contract based work where you are paid a salary or a wage.
  • Passive income – Income that is generated through ASSETS that WORKS FOR YOU. The cost of the asset is the initial investment, and any costs related to maintenance. There are physical assets such as property or a business you own (but not necessary run). Financial assets such as bank deposits, bonds, shares, and index funds. And finally there are non-tangible assets, such as intellectual property.

Rich Dad, Poor DadSo the goal here is to work for non-passive income, in order to invest in assets that will generate passive income. Therefore as you accumulate more passive income, you may be able to work less yourself as your assets work for you, giving you the option to spend more time doing things you want to do (leisure, passion projects, travel etc) and less time on worrying about earning non-passive income in order to cover all your expenses and the cost of living. A book I would highly recommend is “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” (Amazon Link) written by Robert Kiyosaki. An example in terms of thinking about income can be seen in the following paraphrased story:

A son has been saving up from his pocket money and after school job to buy a car and asked his dad to give him some advice on what kind of car he should buy. The dad tells his son, instead of buying the car NOW, which also comes with maintenance costs of petrol and servicing, he should use that money as well as his future savings and invest it in the stock market so that if he does well and makes the right informed decisions, the investment would be able to generate enough passive income to for the son to buy a nice car EVERY YEAR.

This is the second idea behind becoming ‘financially’ independent. That all your expenses can eventually be covered through passive income opening up more possibilities for how you are able to spend your time. There is a lot to talk about in detail, but this post is more about the general overview and helping you get in the frame of mind.

So where should you start?

The best way to start is to do 2 things:

  1. Monitor your spending
  2. Make the most of the assets you have RIGHT now

Monitoring your spending

Pocketbook ScreenshotThere is an amazing service that’s pretty new to Australia which I would highly recommend used to monitor your spending. It recently recently release it’s Android App, whilst already catering for iPhone users as well as a web portal you’re able to access. The service is called Pocketbook (similar to Mint.com for US locals) and what it does is it links all your bank accounts / credit cards and automatically gathers all the information in terms of spending and income in a beautifully presented way in one place, where you are able to track and label all your accounts and transactions.

Also because it is a READ ONLY service, you won’t be able to make any transactions through the service (you’ll still need to log into your online banking services), which I’m kind of glad of because I don’t need to worry as much about security and what happens if someone manages to get into my Pocketbook account. (Pro tip: to put in cash transactions make sure you label cash withdrawals as ‘Transferring Money’ and then you are able to manually enter in each cash transaction so you don’t double up on same the item).

However if you prefer your information not to be stored in the cloud and would rather input all transaction manually, I would firstly suggest to ask for receipts for EVERYTHING you purchase (where possible) so that you have a record of it (sometimes, it’s just not convenient to put in information on the spot). Second of all, I would recommend the money tracking app MoneyWise (for Android – there is also a Paid Version) and for iPhone users you can check out this page.

Understanding how you spend your money allows you to find areas where you can cut down on expenses as well as set achievable budgets and create saving goals.

Finally, credit cards are great to have, but I would strongly recommend to only spend what you can pay back RIGHT NOW. Otherwise, debts will begin to accumulate and this will develop into a bad habit of overspending.

Making the most of your current assets

Questions you can ask yourself and then take action upon:

  • What is the interest rate for my savings account?
  • Are there other banks that are offering better interest rates?
  • What are the conditions and eligibility of earning the maximum interest rate?
  • Do I have a saving account that I can access immediately in case of a rainy day? (SUPER IMPORTANT: Usually the common goal is to have this savings account able to cover the cost of living for 6 – 12 months) Once you’ve reach this savings goal, NEVER touch the money unless it is for a rainy day.
  • Do I have multiple superannuation accounts? (If yes, put them all into one account ASAP)
  • Where else can I put my money to earn the best possible return?
  • How can leverage my skills and expertise to gain more income i.e. got a spare bedroom? Air BnB. Got some spare time? Freelancer / ODesk / Airtasker
  • How come I promote myself to gain credibility and higher qualifications(and therefore get paid more)?

There are many more hints and tips out there. If you have any personal finance rules that you strongly believe in let me know in the comments below.

 

The First iPhone Keynote

Apple Evangelist

 

It’s been more than 5 years since the late Steve Jobs took to the stage to deliver one of the best presentations in the tech space with its first iPhone Keynote and announcement. Now I have never been a huge fan of Apple, but I have to admit that the iPhone was a giant leap in mobile device technology. Even though the specs may be out of date i.e. 4GB/8GB options, 2mp camera and 2g internet, the features and innovations it brought to the market are now taken for granted. Those who receive their first phone as a smartphone (either Android or iPhone), do not know the mobile world past we lived in where Nokia (who’s mobile patents now belong to Microsoft) dominated the market with their seemingly indestructible 3310 model.

The keynote also reveals how the digital and mobile landscape has changed:

  • Yahoo was still a major competitor in the email market
  • 3.5 inch screen = REALLY BIG screen
  • Google and Apple had a friendly relationship
  • No mobile optimisation for websites
  • Cingular and AT&T still existed as separate brands
  • The importance of patents and the how broken the intellectual property system is

So how was the keynote?

The presentation started by Jobs stating it will be announcing 3 ‘revolutionary products’ of its class: iPod, phone and internet communications device. From here the theatrics and showmanship of Jobs begin to shine as he reveals that the 3 products is indeed the one product, the iPhone.

Jobs continues by talking about the current state of the ‘smartphone’ market (which we would now consider ‘feature phone’ as opposed to smart). He runs through the numerous problems and design flaws in particular the user interface and its rigidity, which segues perfectly into the introduction of the touch interface devoid of any stylus. (Textbook pain point identification + solution formula.) The language Jobs uses gently coaxes the audience to separate the iPhone from its competitors, ‘revolutionary’, ‘gorgeous’, ‘works like magic’, ‘patented’, ‘5 years ahead of any other phone’. These words and phrases were critical part of Apple’s evil plan in displaying product differentiation and establishing a unique selling proposition (USP).

The keynote then turns to the features and innovations of the 3 ‘products’ through demonstrations i.e. proof of concept:

  • iPod – being able to ‘touch’ your music, cover flow, landscape and portrait mode
  • Phone – ‘visual voicemail’, conferencing, detection and switching to ‘phone mode’, phone book and contacts, texting sessions
  • Internet communications device – Safari browser, email, pinch gesture, double tap zoom, maps and apps (maps, weather, camera)

One of the funniest moments is when Jobs gives a prank call to a local Starbucks in front of the audience:

‘Yes, hello. I’d like to order 4 thousand lattes to go please. Just kidding, wrong number. Thank you.’

Being the salesman he is, Jobs then goes into the sales side of things. First the announcement was made about 6 months prior the shipping date of the iPhone, which was a first for Apple who, before then kept details close to the chest UNTIL the release of the product, however the hype generated from the keynote created a massive amount of buzz and anticipation. It’s funny looking back on this, as Apple aimed to take 1% of market share by setting a target of selling 10 million iPhones in its first full year of sales, as many were skeptical of how achievable this was. Jobs uses price anchoring, i.e. what you’d normally pay for the products separately and what you’d pay for the iPhone which, of course, has more funcationality *evil smile*, for price points and justification.

Why was the iPhone so successful?

There were some key marketing decisions which you can see from the keynote, that shows the amount of planning put in for the product launch, so here are my thoughts of the reasons behind the success.

  • Creating a highly successful product announcement that (for the most part) went without a hitch (minor clicker problems) and generating a ridiculous amount of press
  • Manufacturing its own hardware – which meant greater oversight in quality control
  • Partnering with large software (Google and Yahoo) and service vendors (Cingular) for support and backing, allowing for a greater reach and exposure
  • Protecting its unique selling proposition through innovation and patents (over 200 filed for the 1st gen ALONE)
  • Rebranding of the company to reflect it’s product offering ( Apple Computers Inc to simply Apple Inc)

Bonus Drinking Game

You must drink every time:

  • Jobs says ‘revolutionary’, ‘boom’ or ‘gorgeous’
  • The crowd cheers
  • Jobs wears his glasses or puts them on his head
  • Gives a spec of the phone that would now be considered crap but awesome at the time

And here is the complete Keynote presentation:

Valve Announcements

So shiney!

Last week the video game distribution and development company, Valve Corporation, made three major announcements which give a clue on a new direction the company is taking. The three Valve Announcements were (click the links to jump to the announcement info):

  1. A new Linux-based platform to move Steam (the video game distribution software) from desktop computers and laptops to the living room with its SteamOS
  2. Valve entering the hardware business, Steam Machines, with the launch of its prototype Steam Box which would compete with Microsoft’s XBox, Ninento’s Wii and Sony’s Playstation
  3. The second hardware product unveiling of a new Steam Controller for Games
  4. NOT Half Life 3

The Marketing

The announcements were revealed through this landing page that had 3 symbols and a count down timer under one. When one announcement was made the timer would reset and moved onto the next symbol. This was a great bit of marketing as it drummed up PR (free advertising!) as journalists were predicting what the symbols meant and tried to anticipate the next announcement. Furthermore, the announcements were spaced out perfectly to allow the hype to extend over a week (as opposed to making all the announcements at once).

So mysterious!
Countdown timer for Steam Machines. With the SteamOS already revealed.

This utilises one of the fundamental concepts in marketing, as it taps into a tried and true technique of generating buzz and being the talk of the town, and that is… *drum roll*…

FREQUENCY

With the multiple announcements, came multiple instances of exposure to the brand and spreading awareness. With each successive announcement leading to the company being pushed further and further into front of mind for consumers, therefore building an association between brand (Valve and Steam) with a need (entertainment and escapism) that computer games provide.

Now a little more info on the announcement…

SteamOS

  • A Linux based back-end to power Steam is a FREE, standalone operating system for living room machines
  • Focuses on improving graphics processing performance and reductions in latency on the OS (operating system) level
  • An ‘open’ system allowing:
    • OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) (aka those in the hardware industry) to innovate a faster rate
    • Content makers to engage directly with their audience
    • End users to change and replace hardware and software as they see fit (highly customisable)
    • End users to be involved in the creation process of games
  • Features:
    • Streaming – From your PC to your TV via the SteamOS machine
    • Media file compatibility and availability i.e. music, TV, movies
    • Family sharing – families members are able to take turns playing your games but also earn individual achievements and save the progress for each individual
    • Content / visibility control – to ensure family friendliness to ensure you’re exposing the right games each family member taking into account age appropriateness

Steam Machines

  • The protoype ‘machine’ is dubbed as the Steam Box
  • But Valve is planning to make available multiple machines from different manufacturers
  • More information to come soon!
  • But the prototypes will be shipping this year
  • Due to the ‘openness’ of the machine, Valve is encouraging the ‘hackers’ culture to modify and change any part of the Steam Box from the hardware, to the software and to the operating system

Steam Controller

So shiney!
Futuristic looking Steam Controller
  • Designed to work with all Steam Games
  • Increased resolution and fertility of input for better control within games
  • Features:
    • Replacing the thumb sticks, the Steam Controller has two trackpads that are clickable (like a button)
    • Haptic feedback – providing information through force and vibration on the commands that were input into the controller (think more high tech version of the ‘rumble pack’)
    • Touch Screen – allowing for customisable button commands without the need of specific physical buttons
    • 16 Buttons in total
    • As with the culture of Valve, that involves the community in the product development, they plan for the Steam Controller to be ‘hacker friendly’ meaning it’ll can be taken apart and put together easily

Reinventing the Wheel

I’m interested in how far along these new products go. I don’t know exactly how USEFUL another operating system or console is and how it’ll integrate with currently home theatre / entertainment setups. Would those who already have an XBox, Playstation or Wii buy this, especially given that many gamers already have multiple consoles and developers already release their games on multiple platforms. Also given the fact, that the current console makers have already implemented an online market place for their games and probably have a setup for movies and TV shows.

I’m not sure what problem in the market place this operating system and hardware solves. I feel like those who would purchase the Steam Machines and use SteamOS are the small niche group of hackers (think tinkerer rather than internet espionage) and hardcore gamers, rather than casual or regular gamer, who like to play around and make modifications and contribute to the gaming community. UNLESS of course the adoption of SteamOS and Steam Machines becomes high enough to knock off its main rivals due seamless integration of traditional living room entertainment with PC functionality.

The Steam Controller however seems like a game changer, allowing for greater customisation, engagement and depth of gaming and for players to be more immersed into the games. They way Valve designed this product and the thought process behind it is very impressive. Given that it was the last announcement it seems that Valve has a ‘favourite child’ out of these three babies, and I couldn’t blame them. They aren’t reinventing the wheel, but making big leaps forward.

What do you guys think about these announcements? Otherwise leave your theories of when Half Life 3 will come out in the comments below.

Being Productive on the Internet vs Wasting Time

There are so many things you can do online, but making the most and being productive on the internet is a very useful habit that is hard to master.

I’ve realised, as I’ve gotten older, time becomes a finite resource, one that I wasted so much of looking back at my university / school days. So here’s my current most viewed sites, as well as places I should visit more often (not including emails).

Where I Actually Spend My Time

  • Reddit
    • They call this place the front page of the internet
    • It’s a social news and bulletin board site, where users (posters and lurkers) vote (upvote / downvote) on the quality of the post
    • Those entries that are popular, both original submissions and comments, are placed higher up on the thread whilst those with downvotes get pushed to the bottom and become hidden
    • There’s a lot of entertainment that can be taken out of Reddit, my favourite ‘subreddits’ are AMA (Ask Me Anything), TIL (Today I Learned) and Ask Reddit
    • There are more subreddits for many niche interests
  • OzBargain
    • I have a love/hate relationship with this site
    • It’s a great place to find a bargain
    • But it’s also a great place to waste your money on things you don’t necessarily need, but buy anyway because it’s just so cheap
  • Facebook
    • No introduction or link needed
    • This is such a time sink, but I have gradually reduced the amount of time I actually spend here.
    • I just need to reduce the frequency now
    • I do feel that Facebook has made our generation much more narcissistic, and promotes anti-social behaviour (FB ‘investigating’ and jealousy through fear of missing out otherwise known as #FOMO)
  • Feedly
    • This is probably my only ‘good habit’
    • Feedly is service which is known as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader
    • What this means is that it ‘subscribes’ to websites and when they post new content, the RSS reader will grab that new post and collect it for you
    • This means you can read and watch all your favourite news / blogs / comics / videos from one place
    • Some of the news sites I’m subscribed to include: Inc, Lifehacker, Engadget, Ars Technica, Mashable, The Next Web, Wired and Gizmodo
    • Don’t forget to subscribe to my feed! – LINK
  • YouTube
    • Moving pictures!
    • A tonne of fun that you can share with friends, but 95% a waste of time
    • There are some great educational videos, though there are better places to find these
    • I mainly watch videos on: dance, computer game playthroughs and basketball

Where I Should Spend More of My Time

  • UDemy, Coursera and other Massive Online Open Courses
    • Further education and learning, it’s always good to continue learning after you’ve finished with formal education
    • A lot of courses are free, but premium content requires payment though a worthwhile investment
    • Courses include video recordings as well as other materials such as slide notes and links to further readings
  • Codeacademy
    • A very useful skill which I’ve been trying to learn, but it takes a commitment and getting into the habit of doing some coding every day to really retain everything to be able to code in a practical sense
    • The lessons are very intuitive, and start from the most basic, so no prior knowledge is required to start learning
  • Feedly ShortcutsFeedly (see above)
    • To keep up to date with news and what’s been happening in your area of interest and expertise
    • Ability to save articles that might be of use in the future
    • Convenient and quick – with its Android and iOS app, you can read on the fly
    • I’d advise those use it to familiarise yourself with the keyboard shortcuts (see image)
  • TED
    • It stands for ‘Technology, Entertainment, Design’ with its slogan as ‘ideas with spreading’
    • The site is full of videos which are both inspiring and educational that open your eyes to ideas by some great speakers
    • There is a lot of discover, but one of the best parts are the speakers themselves who are so passion during their presentation
    • A great place to pick up some pointers in presentation skills whilst learning a thing or two

So where do you spend most of your time online? Any other places you’d like to spend that’ll make you more productive? Let me know what you think.