Posts tagged ‘Jack Yan & Associates’


The real privacy policy

26.01.2014

Documentaries such as Terms and Conditions May Apply (embedded here) and Doc Searls’ The Intention Economy got me thinking about our privacy policy.
   We have one for our company, but how do we really use your private data? It got me thinking.
   Since we’ve been online for longer than most people, we have practices that haven’t varied too much.
   They go something like this.

Our overall policy
We wouldn’t do anything that we’d get pissed off about if the tables were turned. Unlike Google, our privacy policy really is ‘Don’t be evil.’

Email
If you give us your email address, we’ll only ever use it for the purpose you gave it for. We hold on to it at head office, and it’s never shared with anyone. We don’t know anyone in the email-marketing game, anyway, and even if we did, we don’t see the point of giving away an address that we earned through your trust.
   Just be warned that we do hold on to your address for ages.
   We have to be nice about your email because we still let you write back to us to get your address removed, and someone here reads that message. We’d rather you not get aggro about it, so we only do what’s right.

Social networks
If you become a fan of ours, we appreciate it. We never drill down to find out your personal information. We sometimes check the graphs to see the age and gender breakdowns but we don’t find out about you personally. Be aware that the social network itself will collect stuff on you—but we’re not taking any of that data ourselves.

Cookies
Our websites have cookies. We never check them ourselves. They’re only ever used for helping you log in, usually to partner websites who supply the back ends to stuff we do. They’re also used to gather stats about our readership. But we never associate any of this data with you because we’re a small company that doesn’t have the time. The only detailed readership stats we have are from users who knowingly volunteered them through surveys.
   Some of our sites carry advertising, so unfortunately, this means the ad networks might try to track you. We suggest opting out through the Network Advertising Initiative for the US or check this page for other territories, or altering your cookie settings.
   Some of our income comes from these guys, so we’re going to have to continue carrying their ads.
   For the ads we serve ourselves, we don’t collect any personally identifiable data. Our clients are quite happy with the demographic breakdowns we give them.

Comments
We don’t even know what IP address you used since our websites are on the cloud. If you give us a comment, all we know about you is what you tell us.

   The last one might apply nicely for this blog.
   Wouldn’t it be nice if all firms were this up front, or even more so?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, culture, internet, marketing, publishing | No Comments »


In Wellington, the players need to change

23.05.2013

The below was written on April 22, 2013, in response to an article in The Dominion Post. It was offered to the newspaper as an op–ed, then to The Wellingtonian, but it was eventually declined.

The Dominion Post’s headline on April 22 confirmed what many of us knew after numerous friends and colleagues left Wellington over the last several years.
   Our population growth is below the national average, as are our employment and economic growth. In fact, the regional Wellington economy is stagnant.
   In 2010, I stated that we needed to look at our creative sector, and encourage creative clusters, to get Wellington’s economy back on track. Even then it was evident that the early 2010s were not going to get off to a healthy start. If we were to get central government’s support for any projects—even the Mayor’s light-rail programme—then surely the wisest thing would be to increase the industry in our city first?
   The free wifi I campaigned on was never meant to be seen in isolation. It was a signal to international businesses in that sector that Wellington was open to investment and collaboration. That inward investment and sharing of knowledge could, in turn, help local firms expand and export.
   We had reached the limits of our natural resources, so we needed to start using intellectual property, and increase R&D in our city. While ICT is healthy in Wellington, the priority must be to identify companies, in this and other high-value sectors, that can become nationally or internationally competitive with the right nudge. We should not be, as the late Sir Paul Callaghan stated in a 2011 address, locked into a single sector—and that was what the clusters were all about.
   With my 2013 candidacy, not much has changed about these ideas. The real difference is that they have become far more pressing.
   The next mayor needs to work with one’s counterparts in the region and agree on identifying, using rigorous criteria, which are our next champions. Which firms, for instance, are those that are sitting on $1 million revenues today that can be at $10 million shortly, if they were given the right exposure, contacts or opportunities?
   And since nationally, high-tech exports are growing at 11 per cent per annum, according to the World Bank, it’s not a bad sector to start with. It just shouldn’t be the only one.
   Wellington businesses are not asking for hand-outs, but the right connections. These firms also need to be encouraged to look beyond just being content with a small patch, when Wellington business-people often hold great ideals and more socially responsible ways of doing things. These can, in fact, inform the way business is conducted in other cities, and contribute to how New Zealand is marketed and seen abroad.
   I do not advocate a policy of “growth for growth’s sake”. But I do argue that the innovative way successful Wellington businesses have approached their sectors can take a larger share of the global pie.
   In my case, it’s putting 26 years’ experience on the line, the majority of that in exporting frictionless products and services.
   We can opt for politics as usual, or identify and nurture the right players in our business sector.
   When it comes to business, it must be international in scope, inspiring politicians at the national level about what Wellington is made of.
   We can consider electing people who have spent time bridging cultures and creating those international links, which we need right now if two other cities are getting the government’s focus. Wellington’s businesses have gone under the radar for too long, and they need an ally who can balance their needs while ensuring citizens’ rights are protected.
   I see our city having spent too much time breaking its own rules, and being forced to answer through formal proceedings brought by Waterfront Watch and other groups.
   The system and its rules are healthy, but the players need to change, and a cultural change, internally and externally, is needed for Wellington in its local body elections.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, culture, leadership, marketing, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | No Comments »


In praise of Zoho Mail

31.03.2013

Now that all of our email, bar a handful of client accounts, are going through the paid version of Zoho Mail, I couldn’t be happier.
   When we shifted things over, my friend and web development expert, Nigel Dunn, suggested either Google or Zoho. He’s a big fan of Google, and I can see the good side of the company I bash regularly. But I opted for Zoho, and anyone who’s followed my ongoing privacy battles with the big G will know why.
   It turns out I had a Zoho account anyway, thanks to Gabriel Weinberg and his Duck Duck Go team. But to go from the freebie that I’ve had for four years to a paid one was quite a big step, since we hadn’t ever done this newfangled cloud email before. However, I have to say I am very impressed, because of one major thing: Zoho’s customer service.
   For starters, it exists. No more going to abusive Google forums where cocky users, in their worshipping of the cult, make it all your fault. Zoho staff actually write back to you. In fact, they put me on to their support system after a while and they’ve been dealing with my enquiries really quickly in there, too.
   The longest wait I had was a question about Eudora, because I wasn’t sure how to get the Zoho POP mail working with an older program. While most answers came in 24 hours, this one took a week—but I’ll turn a blind eye to that one, given that it’s one out of a heap of questions I fired at them and it’s not a program they knew well. (For Eudora readers who are reading this, you turn on SSL, but you choose the ‘Required, alternate port’.)
   The replies are courteous and make you think that India knows customer service considerably better than the United States, or Australia for that matter: you’re treated as you would expect, and they don’t start from the basis of “the customer is stupid”.
   Even before I became a paying customer, Zoho treated me with respect.
   Good service isn’t just the province of Indians—just yesterday I blogged about how well Tumblr handled user enquiries and reports, despite reaching 100 million users. However, you sometimes wonder if they are the exceptions in a world dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook.
   The real kicker is this: the system works wonderfully when it comes to combating spam. I get thousands of messages per week so not having spam is a good thing. Our old Rackspace box, at best, killed about 50 per cent of the spam that came in. Granted, we chose our own blacklists, so this is not Rackspace’s responsibility. However, we used the ones we were recommended by experts.
   Zoho gets rid of over 95 per cent, maybe more, of the spam. After a day, I’ve had no false positives, and only a tiny handful has crept in. My emailbox, as downloaded in Eudora, is almost as untainted as it was in the 1990s, and I am not exaggerating.
   For those of you who use Gmail and are sick of the ads, this should appeal: Zoho is ad-free. No more using your personal data and linking it to advertising across all websites where Google and Doubleclick have their banners. As we become more concerned with online privacy, I’d say this was a very good thing.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, India, internet, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


Testing new type live on Lucire

05.04.2012

Over the last week, we’ve added font-face linked fonts to three of our websites: Lucire, Lucire Men and Lucire Home.
   The difference is that we haven’t done it to the titles, but the body type this time. It’s a test-bed for our latest design, which I’ll reveal more information on shortly. In the case of Lucire Men, the same family has been used for the headlines.
   I realize that some recommend that the body type not be linked, since it adds to the download time. I was very conscious of this. However, we have tested the pages on a slower, older computer and while there is a slight lag, it’s barely noticeable. The type already appears on the page and simply changes to the linked fonts shortly afterward.
   Call me a sucker for double-f ligatures, but I’m enjoying the fact they come up without coding in the HTML for them:

Lucire Men headline

   It was also a good chance to see how the new family worked as web fonts, and how they hinted. There are a few quirks, but nothing too serious. It’s our first time showing off a new design in use before launch.
   The Cleartype application isn’t that perfect on Windows, but it appears beautifully on Android and Ubuntu. We’ve also been testing the typefaces in-house on Apple Macintosh OS X, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
   I thank Dan Gordon for giving me his opinion on how the type displayed on the three sites (Lucire was the last to be converted). The lower-traffic ones were first, serving as test-beds.
   I’m now tempted to use this family for this personal site and blog, once I figure out what the new look and feel will be.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in design, internet, media, New Zealand, publishing, technology, typography, Wellington | No Comments »


Retrograde steps for our cellphones

07.11.2010

Nokia 2730 ClassicLast week, our company’s Nokia 2730 Classics arrived as part of a contract with Telstra Clear, of whom we’ve been a customer since the 1980s. They are a reminder of how technology is regressing.
   Remember that scene in Life on Mars, where Sam Tyler, or Samuel Santos in La chica de ayer, tells Annie Cartwright, Annie Norris or Ana Valverde (depending on which version you saw) how LPs had been replaced by MP3s and digital music, and that the sound is ‘much, much worse’? That’s sort of how I feel with these new gadgets.

Left Not quite the same as ours—the display is different—but this is a publicity shot of the Nokia 2730 Classic. Below Life on Mars’s record shop scene in its various incarnations (from left to right, top to bottom): the UK original in Manchester; the unaired US pilot, set in Los Angeles; the US remake, set in New York; and the Spanish remake, set in Madrid.
Life on Mars music store scenes

   On the surface, the new phones aren’t much to look at. Compared with the 6275i phones that the 2730s are replacing, it’s clear that they are built to a price, cost-cutting for easy manufacture in China rather than Korea. There’s not much of an excuse here for design simplification: this is manufacturing simplification.
   I have reason to be cynical. I’m sure it’s part of a conspiracy to force us to get a nicer model. I remember buying a Microtek scanner for around $600 in the 1990s—probably around 1996—and it lasted me for years, till around 2002 when I ordered an upgrade. I looked at the specs for the latest scanners and thought, ‘Wow, here’s one with a higher resolution going for half the price.’ I brought it back and the scanning quality was total crap.
   I wrote to the distributor in Auckland and they informed me: the equivalent model to my old one is this other machine costing $600. The difference is that the half-price one has a plastic lens and my old one had a glass lens. So if I wanted one with comparable quality, I would need to pay twice as much for one with a glass lens. In other words, it would still cost me $600.
   I bought the glass one and they were as good as their word, although I had to put up with a smaller scanning area (but I got a faster speed). The resolution figure, it turned out, was meaningless, because the actual quality of the product was so poor.
   Technology didn’t really advance in six years. I still had to pay the same price for a machine with actually less capability on the primary function, which was scanning an area of x cm².
   This seems like a repeat. I have yet to try what it’s like as a phone, because the switchover’s not till the 8th, but for many features, it’s poorer. It has a better media player. The speaker for playing music and movies is better. The graphics move more nicely. Nokia supplies some free maps (which, incidentally, get deleted when you eject the memory card, though you can re-download them for free from its website).
   But (and there must be a but given the headline): the camera is worse (judge for yourself below) and the battery life is shorter. I might not be an initié when it comes to cellphones, but I know that people have been using them for telephony and photography for a lot longer than as MP3 and 3GP players. On at least two of the three major criteria on which a cellphone can be judged, the 2730 is worse than the mid-decade 6275i.
   Judge for yourself below. These are photographs (reduced) taken at Massey University’s Blow festival exhibition, currently on at its Wellington campus.

Nokia 6275i
Massey University Blow Festival 2010

Nokia 2730 Classic
Massey University Blow Festival 2010

Nokia 6275i
Massey University Blow Festival 2010

Nokia 2730 Classic
Massey University Blow Festival 2010

   And what is the point of that? Unless Nokia now tells me: if you want the quality of the old one, it’s this other model, which will cost you an extra $300.
   I know there are many exceptions to what I’ve just written. The Asus laptop I type this on is way fancier than one that cost twice as much with a fraction of the power in the mid-2000s. But just because one area of technology marches so rapidly doesn’t mean every area follows suit.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, design, general, New Zealand, technology | 2 Comments »


Eating Google humble pie

25.10.2010

Today, I am eating Google humble pie, because it was right about malware on Autocade. Therefore: thank you, Google. (I’m not so petty as to not thank them for when they get things right.)
   Since Google had cried wolf over this blog, which has never had malware issues, I had to question it. Nevertheless, I’m sure most people would agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
   We originally suspected it was one ad network. This is also based on past behaviour, when one of our networks got suckered in to hosting an ad twice in 2007 that turned out to be a trojan. So we began limiting the creatives that could be shown on our sites.
   When that didn’t work, we had to keep looking.
   We traced the malware from Autocade back to OpenX, which we’ve now removed from our server. There is an upgraded version which we’ll look at, as we need this program, but for now, I’d rather lose a few dollars than subject innocent users to malware.
   It’s a shame there does not seem to be much action over at OpenX. It’s a really good program but the forums don’t seem to have too many staff present there. However, I know we were not alone.
   For once, I’m glad Autocade is not a hugely popular site, but it’s still disturbing that this happened—and, as I understand it, Gawker and Gizmodo were affected, too.
   The site acting as the malware intermediary is clickme199.ipq.co, which has been allowed to remain online. Whois gives ipq.co’s location in the UK.
   Luckily, our other sites were unaffected, in that no malware was sent down the line. But as a precaution, we removed all OpenX code from our sites.
   It’s been a big weekend for computer problems, with one machine down due to a trojan and our ad-serving program sending malware. Plesk (the server administrator) also reported that we sent out 61 Tbyte of data this month—and we’re only paying for 100 Gbyte. That was also scary, till I was told by Rackspace that that’s down to a bug. So we’ve had to upgrade Plesk as well—probably not a bad thing.
   Not exactly the catch-up weekend that I envisaged, but at least we made some progress. The damaged computer is almost back to normal, too.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in internet, marketing, New Zealand, publishing, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »


Happy birthday, Lucire

21.10.2010

Lucire home page, October 20, 1997
Above The first issue of Lucire in 1997. Below right Lucire’s first iPad cover.

[Cross-posted at Lucire] An hour ago, we turned 13. Normally this wouldn’t have merited much of a mention, since 13’s not the sort of number people tend to celebrate. But I happened to be up, after a long day catching up on emails post-election, while head designer Tanya Sooksombatisatian sorted through our New York Fashion Week images.
   Earlier this evening, fashion editor Sopheak Seng and I attended a fashion show for La’ Shika Bridal, held at the Museum Hotel in Wellington, and had good chats to the bridal designers and jewellery designer Victoria Taylor, sister of Rebecca.
   I sat at a similar desk in 1997 when we started Lucire and uploaded the new home page, replacing a placeholder, at precisely midnight NZDT on October 21. (I even timed it.) That translated to October 20 at 6 a.m. in New York. At the time, the US market was the primary one online, so I tended to notice what the time was over on their east coast.
   It was a 386 running Netscape 1-point-something that displayed Lucire’s first edition here. The monitor had a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels. We developed it on Windows 3·1, but tested it on various Power Macs. I coded the home page by hand and did the first graphics.
   We’ve gone through a lot—a print edition from 2004, a short-lived venture in Romania in 2005–6, and we now face 2011 with print in four countries and an iPad app that will go live any day. A cellphone edition has been around for a little while, though it never took off. I was in it for the long haul, but I really didn’t think specifics. We had a general direction, and we seized the opportunities as they came.
   There have been many times when I have publicly thanked the people who got us here, and many of those who I named in December 2008, when I celebrated 21 years in business, were responsible for getting Lucire to where it is. Since then, Andrew Matusik, Victoria Jones, Sopheak Seng, Rola Saab, Jon Moe, Seka Ojdrović-Phillips, Samantha Hannah, Joseph Ungoco, Leyla Messian, Ashleigh Berry and Sylvia Giles must be added to the list. The many Massey University graduates who have tirelessly helped—Roanna Bell, Uma Lele and Brigitte Unger come to mind—as well as Gemma Conn from Waikato Institute of Technology.
   I won’t say the journey has been easy: in fact, it’s been very tough. But I’m very glad that Lucire has been a medium through which many people have been brought together to do something we all love. We have been a change agent in the past, and that’s something I’m conscious we need to continue, through being on the forefront of new media. And we’ve introduced our fair share of labels, many of which have become big names. We’ve provided many people with coverage when others ignored them—discovering then that all they needed was that leg up to get to the next stage.
Lucire Ipad edition cover, photographed by Andrew Matusik   I still remember the fact that we were one of the first to interview Zac Posen and Kathryn Wilson as she graduated from university, and covered Rebecca Taylor at Gen Art. Lucire published the first series of sustainable style editorials in an international fashion magazine with Summer Rayne Oakes in the earlier part of the century.
   To all our readers, thank you for being with us on this journey. I am mindful that we are merely stewards of the Lucire brand, and that it belongs to us not in law, but in spirit. We’re going to keep engaging and we plan to be with you for many more anniversaries to come.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, design, internet, media, New Zealand, publishing, technology, USA, Wellington | 2 Comments »


Deciphering geo-targeting on OpenX; and why Mediaplex is a cheeky sod

21.07.2010

Between a few of us here and my friend Pete in the UK, we’ve spent nearly two weeks trying to get OpenX to work. We’re finally getting ad-serving technology put in in-house, after years of relying on the US ad networks we primarily work with. It’s also walking the talk: since I have advocated that Wellington moves to open source if I am elected mayor, then it makes sense that our Linux servers are running ads off an open-source ad-management program.
   The first problem might have been caused by me personally: OpenX wouldn’t install. Pete re-uploaded the files, we chmoded the directories, and away we went.
   Autocade has been the first domain to host the ads that we are sending along, and it’s been so far, so good.
   However, today we decided to give the home page of the Lucire web edition a go, and encountered a problem.
   All was well for the first few hours, but then I noticed something strange: two different computers at this office were behaving differently with the geo-targeting.
   We had fed in banners from two of our US networks. Let’s call them network A and network B. They were set, for New Zealand, to display at these percentages (roughly):

Network A: 98 per cent
Network B: 2 per cent

On computer one running Windows XP, the above was working.
   On computer two running Windows Vista:

Network A: 0 per cent
Network B: 100 per cent

   I’ve a fair idea of how geo-targeting works and two computers on the same network going through the same router with the same (outward) IP address do not, in theory, behave differently.
   But, as Homer Simpson once retorted, ‘In theory, communism works.’
   I hope the boffins can explain this one, because usually I have gone against expert advice to get computer hardware working. (The network was hooked up many years ago by yours truly, doing the exact opposite of what the instructions said—after, I might add, the instructions failed. My personal laptop and its Bluetooth connection were hooked up by finding the most illogical method possible.)
   Surfing to the OpenX forums (Pete had been on the chat earlier, but no one was around), I tried to log in. Unfortunately, this proved impossible and errors followed:

OpenX forum bug

No one was there at all, presumably due to the database error shown at the bottom of the page:

OpenX forum bug

   So, if any OpenX experts are out there and can answer our geo-targeting question, please give us a shout in the comments.

Despite fiddling around with all these online ads, there’s one company I know I will never deal with. And it’s not as though the online ad industry has come to us with clean hands, either, so this sullies them further.
   After surfing on July 10, I found I could no longer get on to Facebook. Every time I typed www.facebook.com, I got the screen below (excerpted):

Mediaplex redirection

Which led me to here:

Mediaplex redirection

   Somewhere along the line, I must have got to a web page that hijacked my web browser. It didn’t alter the hosts’ file, and I was eventually able to correct this by deleting all cookies and clearing the browser cache, but it left me with one clear message: I will never deal with Mediaplex.
   Based on the above, this conduct is highly unethical and is nearly as bad as planting a trojan or a virus on to a user’s computer. And Googling the incident, I found that many others had encountered the same, sometimes when typing in other sites.
   I was saddened to find out that Mediaplex is part of Valueclick, a company I dealt with for years. We eventually ended our contract with Valueclick. I don’t recall the reason exactly, but I suspect it was down to the low advertising rates the company delivered. There were no concerns over its behaviour.
   When I was on the Mediaplex site, I noticed that Commission Junction was part of the same group. We have been asked to join CJ many times during the 1990s and 2000s but always read the terms and conditions. It had something similar to this clause (which is in its current agreement):

Dormant Accounts. If Publisher’s Account has not been credited with a valid, compensable Transaction that has not been Charged-back during any rolling, six consecutive calendar month period (“Dormant Account”), a dormant account fee at CJ’s then-current rate shall be applied to Publisher’s Account each calendar month that Publisher’s Account remains an open yet Dormant Account or until Your Account balance reaches a zero balance, at which time the Account shall become deactivated. Transactions will not be counted if the Transaction subsequently becomes a Charge-back.

In English: if you don’t make a sale over six months, they have the right to charge you. When you pay it all back, they kill off your account.
   There’s nothing illegal about that, but considering every other affiliate programme we have seen does not do that, then I bet a few people who were less careful about reading their agreements would have been taken by surprise. I found it questionable, and refused to deal with the company. (It seems, if you believe some of the links on Google, that we got off lucky.)
   This latest stunt tarnishes the entire group: Commission Junction, Mediaplex and Valueclick. Caveat proponor.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, internet, marketing, publishing | 11 Comments »