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In the arms of an angel
Friday, November 30, 2007
I have been following the dragon boating tragedy closely.

If you havn't heard this story, you're probably not Singaporean. Read here.

It really saddened me to see 5 young mens' lives get "snuffed" out like that. My first reaction was self reflection on the fragility of life, my second, for the parents of these young men, and my third in the futile dwelling of the lost lives, achievements, dreams, hopes of these five people.

Strangely, the latter is the most haunting aspect of death, at least for me. I imagine where this guys could have gone with their lives, what they could have been, who they could have loved, who could have loved them back.What follows that thought, is an instant of helplessness, and futility. Mortality jolts me awake from this thought, and the vicious cycle continues again.

I had a deep desire to attend these men's memorial service, which was held yesterday. I was obviously not alone. Over 1000 people turned up. Unfortunately, work concerns were too heavy and I could not. As I was flipping through the obituaries, I realised one of the dragon boaters, CPL Chee Wei Cheng, was from my army unit, 1AMB, and I have vague recollections of meeting him. I'm not sure where in camp, but it might have been a very inappreciable event. Still, I feel sorry, even now.

Read his friend's blog here.

To all these fine young men, for what it is worth, I salute you. I salute you for rowing under the Singapore flag, and doing us proud (even when most of us, never knew you did), I salute you for the extraordinary lives you would probably have led, and I salute you for bringing together so many people. Rest in peace.

I spent the morning looking for an appropriate song and this is it.

Title: Sarah McLachlan - Arms Of An Angel lyrics

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
For the break that will make it ok
There's always some reason to feel “not good enough�
And it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction, oh beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
They may be empty and weightless, and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an Angel, fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack
It don't make no difference, escaping one last time
It's easier to believe
In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees

In the arms of an Angel, far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here


Ylva- A role model Nuffnanger
Saturday, November 24, 2007
In my position as Chief prawn of Nuffnang Pte Ltd, I have been privileged to meet many bloggers. The blogs in Nuffnang are not just a statistic, they represent real people.People, with jobs, people with opinions, people with ambition and people with expectations.

Fulfilling the expectations of 13,000 bloggers is no mean feat (Thats not to say I do not feel up to the task, on the contrary, I relish it). To me, the main issue is education and communication. It is always about setting expectations at the right level so as not to dissapoint.

Let's say you own a shop space. Now a shop space at Takashimaya (on orchard road), which draws alot of human traffic might command a very very high rent, and will always be in demand. Good times or bad.

If you own a shop space on the outskirts of Singapore, perhaps in a not so popular Suburban mall like Sembawang mall for example, you might struggle to find a tenant, and at the same time, the rent will be very low.

This is unfortunately exactly how everything that involves money in the real world works. The blog advertising world, is no different. For your blog to be in demand, you've got to have an audience. The bigger your audience, the more advertisers notice you, the more likely you get chosen for an ad, and the more you earn.

While on the one side of the coin, I've met bloggers like the types Su Ann has denounced. Complaining for example, the low state of their earnings at $1.40 per ad, even pouring scorn on advertiser's money, claiming they can earn more by begging on the streets, I have also met many bloggers who are proactive, understand what they need to do, keep their head down, and get it done. I am glad to say I believe these people are in the majority.

One such blogger is Ylva. I had the privilege of meeting Ylva only quite recently. She applied for the Nuffnang mini community initiative, and she got it. Some people, ask me how do people get selected for these events? Well, to me, I guage interest level. Ylva's email back to me that day, touched me, and made me think, "This is a Nuffnanger, who wants to learn, wants to improve, wants to grow. I've got 20 other applications, and 5 tickets, but she deserves it."

Anyway, this is the email she sent. Unedited.

"Dear Ming,

I joined nuffnang when i saw the link at xiaxue's blog.. surprisingly, i got my 1st ad in May and i earned $1.40 as my blog did not have much visitors at that time.. slowly, i learnt how to blog in a more interesting way, so that visitors will love my blog and come back to me. During these times, i had ads running too and now, my ad paid per week is amounted to $7.09.

it is not the money, is the process on how i learn to blog to attract my readers attention that count and it is priceless.

i am still working very hard on how to blog. there is so much to learn and i am learning from fellow nuffnang-ers.. everytime i see new bloggers who joined nuffnang, i would tag them to welcome them for joining this big family. I even link most of them. Check out my links section under "nuffnang-ers"

anyway, i have to thank nuffnang -- for the experience of blogging and making friends who loves to blog."

I have been invited to speak at an Event called "How to make money without even trying". The illustrious Kennysia, and Mr Miyagi will both be there too. At that event, perhaps I will take Ylva's email out, and flash it on the screen.

I will then say, "How do you make money without even trying?" Truth is, you can't! BUT and here comes the big BUT, if you do something you truly love and are passionate about, throw a little magic into the pot (i.e., pray somebody starts Nuffnang, hehe), the rest should fall in place.

Now Ylva, in the short term, has increased her earnings, and maybe she'll get a couple of hundred bucks, in her blogging lifespan, maybe more. In the long run though, what I'm particularly proud of is her attitude, that the process of getting there is more important. She is eager to learn, and with that attitude, I believe she will do well in life. Not just in blogging. Ylva, well done, keep it up!


The modern day poet
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I was out today with Allan, tagging along to gramaphone when I spotted the latest Jay Chou CD! It's called Jay: On the Run, and as usual, it has some amazing tunes.

His vocabulary and understanding of the chinese laguage is so deep, I would compare him to a modern day chinese poet. Remember all those chinese poems infused with cheeminology we used to recite in chinese class? Well, the best of Jay's songs are very much like that, but he's managed to wax it so well together with melody and instruments. I know I've said it before, but the guy is nothing short of genius.

My favourite song so far that I'm so totally stuck on, is Track 3: Qing Hua Ci, or "Blue and White Porcelain".

I could not decipher a single line as I listened to it, enchanted by its lyrical quality in the car. When I got home, the first thing I did was to visit jay-chou.net , the foremost resource on the internet for anything Jay.

Uploaded the song to imeem for you guys to enjoy. Listen and follow with the Lyrics.

青花瓷 |Qing Hua Ci| Blue and White Porcelain

曲:- 周杰倫
Qu:- Zhou Jie Lun
Music:- Jay Chou

詞:- 方文山
Ci:- Fang Wen Shan
Lyrics:- Vincent Fang

Pin Yin: ekyec - www.jay-chou.net
Translation: laruku - www.jay-chou.net

su pei gou le chu qing hua bi feng nong zhuan dan
The brush outlines a beautiful pattern, brush strokes becoming lighter

ping shen miao hui de mu dan yi ru ni chu zhuang
The peony on the bottle, simplest beauty, just like you

ran ran tan xiang tou gou chuang xin shin wo liao ran
Whiffs of incense smoke bring your troubles to my heart

xuan zhi shang zou bi zhi ci ge yi ban
I pause halfway while painting

you se xian ran shi nu tu yun wei bei si cang
The glazing of the lady's portrait hides her charm

er ni yan ran de yi xiao ru han bao dai fang
Your smile, to me, like a budding flower

妳的美一縷飄散 去到我去不了的地方
ni de mei yi lu piao san qu dao wo qu bu liao de di fang
But your beauty dissipates like smoke, to a place I can never reach

#天青色等煙雨 而我在等妳 (1)
tian qing se deng yan yu er wo zai deng ni
The perfect shade of blue awaits the right weather, like how I wait for you

炊煙裊裊昇起 隔江千萬里
chui yan niao niao sheng qi ge jian qian wan li
From a thousand miles away, I gaze at the curling chimney smoke

zai ping di shu han li fang qian zhao de piao yi
The calligraphy beneath the bottle, elegance of the Han Dynasty

jiu dang wo wei yu jian ni fu bi
Our meeting I foreshadowed

*天青色等煙雨 而我在等妳 (1)
tian qing se deng yan yu er wo zai deng ni
The perfect shade of blue awaits the right weather, like how I wait for you

月色被打撈起 暈開了結局
yue se bei da lao qi yun kai liao jie ju
The moonlight smudged away the remnants of our ending

如傳世的青花瓷自顧自美麗 妳眼帶笑意
ru zhuan shi de qing hua ci zi gu zi mei li ni yan dai xiao yi
Like legendary porcelain obsessed with itself, your eyes full of laughter

se bai hua qing de jin li yue ran yu wan di
Those blue carp seem to come alive on the white bowl

臨摹宋體落款時卻惦記著妳 (2)
lin mo song ti luo kan shi que dian ji zhe ni
While I am imitating the Song inscription I'm thinking of you

yin cang zai yao shao li qian nian de mi mi
The eon of secrets you buried in the kiln

ji xin ni you ru xiu hua zhen luo di
It's exquisiteness like an embroidery needle

簾外芭蕉惹驟雨門環惹銅綠 (3)
lian wai ba jiao re zhou yu men huan re tong lv
The banana tree outside brought the sudden downpour, and in turn the copper rust on the door handle

而我路過那江南小鎮惹了妳 (3)
er wo lu guo na jiang nan xiao zhen re le ni
My passing by Jiangnan brings me to you

在潑墨山水畫(4) 裡 妳從墨色深處被隱去
zai po mo shan shui hua li ni cong mo se shen chu bei yin qu
You fade away into the deep abyss of the Chinese painting


Deal or no deal?
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I love watching programmes by the BBC in the UK. I used to order indian take out and eat in front of my favourite tv show/documentary. My favourites were, "A picture of Britain", "Top Gear", and "Dragons Den".

Dragon's Den is a fantastic show for gaining a little bit of insight into how venture capital works, and what is involved.

The format of the show goes like this. There are five "dragons", well seasoned businessmen, who are successful in their own fields and are acting as venture capitals. An interested entrepeneur/startup auditions to be on the show, and is given something like 5 minutes to pitch their ideas to the dragons. They have to propose a certain amount of investment, say 200k for 15 percent. The startup must get at least 200k of investment otherwise they leave with nothing.

I was recently you-tubing dragon den episodes and chanced on a US version of the show, and a seat grabbing episode at that.

Jobloft.com is an interesting canadian company with a unique value proposition. They are niche targeted at the high turnover industries of service and hospitality, and have several web 2.0 functions that help in easing the process.

Two of the founders managed to secure 200K worth of investments for 50 percent of the company, only to have the cheque torn up subsequently and the deal negated. What happened? Watch and see for yourself!

The question is what would you do? If you were the jobloft founders?

As the co-founder of Nuffnang.com, I can speak for myself, and what I think I would do.

Doctor Norris, academic "mentor" (haha, like MM!), scorned the 200K the dragons were contributing saying it was very little money. One of the VC's shot back saying this, "Its alot of money if you don't have any." That is unfortunately the entire truth. VC's at the end of the day get bang for their buck (in return of course partly for the risk they take), because their money is valuable to startups that have none.

If you asked a guy with a million bucks what a million bucks is worth, he'll probably say, another million bucks. Ask a beggar with nothing, what a million bucks is worth, and he'll say EVERYTHING!

I would personally consider, what the money is worth to me. Do I have it? What can I do with it? How far will it take me? Are there other factors to consider? Contacts? Networks?

But, I would also consider whether the VCs are on the same page as me. Do they have the same vision? Do they believe in my strategies, or do I believe in theirs?

I think Timothy would say the same. I am fortunate to have a partner that complements me well, and shares the same vision for Nuffnang.com. If however, we introduced new parties into this relationship, would they be as complementary?

I like the principles of the founder of the company. "We have tremendous respect for him, and if not for him, we would not even have had the opportunity to pitch to you. He's believed in us from the beginning."

The VCs could not believe they were turned down. Their money was worth more. Their egos has been insulted by this mentor, and yet, their money had been turned down. "If I were one of those guys, I would have stopped him (from tearing the cheque), and said we can fix this. But they didn't do that, and that says a thousand words about them.", said one of the dragons.

It speaks just two words to me. Courage, and principles. I'm certainly no great authority on success myself, but I believe these are two things every entrepeneur should have. Courage and principle. If they had the courage to turn their back on the 200k and stick up for their mentor, I'm sure they will go far, be it with jobloft.com, or another venture in the future.

Check out their blog entry here, for more juicy insight.

Heavy material indeed! For a lighter side of things check out this spoof of the UK version of dragons den! I miss the BBC! Thank god for youtube!


Read this post!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
My business partner Timothy is most certainly the more illustrious blogger between the two of us.

He has a killer sense of humour and wit. And he is a great partner, always supportive, never reproaching, and makes up for my defeciencies brilliantly.

Both of us being young entrepeneurs have had our share of people who try to put us down. Citing a multitude of factors why we will not succeed or why we should not try, or what we're dong wrong.

He has just written what I consider his best post of them all.

To all aspiring entrepeneurs;

Read it here.

Remember, people can never talk you into failure. Unless you let them.


About Me
Ming. Co-founder of Nuffnang.com, Asia's First Blog Advertising Community. Welcome to my blog!

Latest Posts
> In the arms of an angel

> Ylva- A role model Nuffnanger

> The modern day poet

> Deal or no deal?

> Read this post!

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