Zen Gaming with Flow


Ok, so this is not really Japan related but I wanted to share this with my friends and those who perhaps appreciate the simple, clean aesthetics.

A week ago while stressing Japanese grammar, I found this very soothing and relaxing game called Flow. It is a flash-based game, played in a browser. Today I was amazed to see that Flow is being released as a PS3 title, with even better graphics and amazing gameplay.

A little more exploring and it turns out, “flow” is actually a concept defined in psychology:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields. (source: Wikipedia)

Not only is this game incredibly relaxing, but it is also so freshing to see that good games can be developed by independent developers and attract so much attention that they become mainstream on major platforms. Instead of solely focusing on next generation hardware, this game focuses on a simple concept and executes on it so well. Let’s hope we see more independent and creative titles from developers like this in the future.

If class / work / life / pets / whatever is stressing you out, go on and play flow. You won’t regret the experience.

Staying Focused


Canon EOS 20d 1/60 f6.0 3200ISO ??mm Photoshop

I did an experiment yesterday. The goal: completely sequester all distractions and see how much I could get done in 5 hours. I managed to surprise myself as to how much I could accomplish. From 4pm to 9pm I worked like a busy little bee and the only thing a bit dissatisfying was how much work there was left to do, but it got me thinking. A little focus in all aspects of my life could certainly help.

I think that I will work with two central themes this year, capturing a story and capturing motion. I will not focus so much on the media this happens in or even the discipline in which it occurs. I’m curious to see how much I can reduce the things I shouldn’t be doing and add value to the things I am doing by applying a simple concept to things across the board.

For example, in my professional work I could certain benefit from this. Capturing the story of how businesses transform in a simple way for presentations could certainly help. Being able to accurately capture and harness business change (“motion”) provides a focus for my business architecture research.

Even in my amateur photography work, these are two great themes to be able to work with. I hope it also reduces the temptation to take cliche photos of buildings, sunsets, flowers, and pets.

What is the central theme to your work, professional or otherwise this year? Should we even be using this approach. I’m wondering what other people use to guide their work.

Or perhaps, maybe I have just had too much coffee today.

Japanese “Get a Mac” Ads


Nearly all white background, check. Smug hipster guy with a cool hair style, check. Hands in the pocket, check. Suit for the PC-guy, check. Unzipped sweatshirt, check. Kitschy piano vamp in the background, check.

Just as Apple is discontinuing the infamous cool Mac-guy versus unhip PC-guy, they are now using this same advertising slant in its Japanese marketing campaigns. The Japanese Apple videos are nearly identical, with the absence of Justin Long and John Hodgman.

I wish Apple would have quit while they were ahead with the success of this ad campaign. Over a dozen of these does seem to be a bit overbearing. People can quickly relate to the PC guy. “Hey, that guy cut me in line at Starbucks!” “Oh, its ok. He has a Mac.” I can’t say blame folks who feel this way as the repercussions of this brand-building exercise is being felt here.

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Nielsen Ratings for Video Games

Today Neilsen announced that it will begin reporting on market data for video game usage in mid-2007. With the constant bickering on who will with future market share between Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PS3, and Nintendo’s Wii – I guess we will finally actually guess intelligently. What isn’t clear though is exactly how Nielsen plans on gathering this data.

Nielsen GamePlay Metrics will use a patented approach to harvest this existing information from current and next-generation video game consoles within these sample households. The new service will passively record the titles of games while capturing key demographic detail about players.

Interesting. Does this mean they will simply “listen” to what the user is playing? At any rate, this should be a huge tool for video game marketers, developers and, and platform producers all around. With the additional demographics on what gamers are actually playing, expect to see more boring Madden and FPS Racer titles as well. But alas, we all really know that 89% of NASCAR fans are really playing Hello Kitty Island Adventure.

Technorati Profile

Finding a Job … With Technology


I’ve always been a proponent of adage “work smarter, not harder”. But sometimes, those work smarter opportunities find their ways to me without even needing to try. Earlier this week, I happened to be spending a few minutes searching in advance for some internship opportunities overseas when I ran across a very pleasant surprise that has made my ability to network and find MBA internships that much easier.

A Google search had promptly redirected me to monster.com for job and internship listings for one of my favorite companies, Nintendo. To my surprise, I was unaware that if you have a LinkedIn account and the LinkedIn FireFox plugin, a great little sidebar pops up when you are viewing a job entry such as those on Monster.com. Check out the screen shot here:


This sidebar then tells you how many people in your LinkedIn network actually work for that company presently and are open for contacting. Dance monkey dance! Do the work for me. This will make one part of my job / internship search that much easier.
To get a LinkedIn account, simply visit http://www.linkedin.com – consider it “MySpace for people seeking professional networking”. To get the FireFox plugin for LinkedIn, visit that link and follow the instructions.

Google / Apple

Google Apple

Just as I was about to settle in and focus on some reading tonight, two companies I have been following recently in the past few months pull an interesting move, coming together in such an odd way as Google CEO Eric Schmidt joins Apple’s board of directors. What lies in store for these two giants? I just hope they don’t start putting my audio apps to the web-desktop …. or should they?

Too much to think about now. For now, its stick to the goal of finishing Operations and Leadership reading before the holiday weekend!

Apple Reports on iPod City

In the past few months, Apple recent came under fire for its use of overseas labor in possibly harsh conditions. As a followup and throwback to our Globalization and Corporate Responsibility class, this little webpage caught my eye today. It appears Apple has concluded a recent investigation of the allegations and has posted a response on their website. An excerpt from Apple’s report:

We found no instances of forced overtime and employees confirmed in interviews that they could decline overtime requests without penalty. We did, however, find that employees worked longer hours than permitted by our Code of Conduct, which limits normal workweeks to 60 hours and requires at least one day off each week. We reviewed seven months of records from multiple shifts of different productions lines and found that the weekly limit was exceeded 35% of the time and employees worked more than six consecutive days 25% of the time. Although our Code of Conduct allows overtime limit exceptions in unusual circumstances, we believe in the importance of a healthy work-life balance and found these percentages to be excessive.

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Nintendo’s Really Cookin’

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Besides having a really great quarter, Ninendo is cooking, quite literally, with voice activation! One of the reasons why I have entered business school is to explore working in marketing in an industry that will make me crave going to work every day. Certainly, having been produced in the late 70s and the majority of my adolescence ocurring during the hey day of Nintendo in America, I’m very interested in this industry.

I have to admire the way that Nintendo has been able to break through the age barriers in the video game market and really bring the experience to many more people. If the success with the versatility of the DS is any indicator, Nintendo’s Wii console should push those ideals even further. Just take a look at the age groups of the people in the header of the Nintendo’s Wii product page.

Either way, I’ll be there to take it all in. And with that, I’m hungry! おなかがすいたよ!

Update: 2006-07-28 BusinessWeek article

Drinking from the Fire Hose

Information, information, information, and yet more information.

Being in business school is being in a wash of information. Processing and reading this information is somewhat like being a contestant on Stanley Spadowski’s variety show on UHF. Case readings, regular readings, book readings … where does one find that time for the ever important personal readings or research needed to develop our specific interests and business knowledge?

What follows are a few tips that I’ve used over the past two years that have really helped manage the way I process news and information, and presently keeps me from being overwhelmed by the torrents of water directed at my head.

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Getting Organized, Getting Ready

Change of address, turn gas off, turn electricity on, get Internet access, find a storage company, move all my belongings somewhere else, get renter’s insurance … the list went on and on. I am surprised that with the recent move, I haven’t forget something. But all the while, I’ve got this sinking suspicion that I really have.

With graduate school about to begin, and my somewhat masochistic choice to continue my employment part-time while in school looming overhead, I fear my personal task list is about to explode in my face. So this week, I’ve turned my attention to different organizational techniques that I am hoping will free up some creative time and keep me somewhat sane for the next three years.

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