Author Archive | Newley

Mental Health Break, #RobotFails Edition

Embedded above and on YouTube here: “DARPA Robots Can’t Stay Standing.”

I intend to laugh at these things while I can.

Before they ultimately conquer the world, that is.

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President Obama, ‘If You Were a Rohingya…”

A Thai attendee at a recent Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative event at the White House asked President Obama the following question: “If you were a Rohinya, which country would you prefer to live in, and why?”

Now, the question drew snickers, because it’s a bit odd to ask the world’s most powerful man what he would do if he were a member of one of the world’s most persecuted peoples.

But it was actually an effective query because it forced him to personalize the question. Part of his answer: I think I’d like to live in the country where I was born.

For more on the plight of the Rohingya, here’s a recent story providing the context:

Since early May, more than 4,600 boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh have been brought ashore from Southeast Asian waters. Several thousand more are believed to still be at sea after human smugglers abandoned their boats amid a regional crackdown.

Some are Bangladeshis who left their impoverished homeland in hope of finding jobs abroad. But many are Rohingya Muslims who have fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which has denied them basic rights, including citizenship, and confined more than 100,000 to camps. There are more than one million Rohingya living in the country formerly known as Burma.

You can also click on the Rohingya tag to see posts I’ve written about them dating back to 2009.

(Formatting note: This link to the video should take you to the 41:58 mark in the video, when President Obama was asked the question. The embedded video starts from the beginning of the event.)

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THAT MESSI GOAL

You have got to be kidding me.

Update: Original video is no longer available on YouTube. So I switched it out for a new one. If the one above is yanked, search YouTube for “Messi goal Athletic Bilbao.”

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By Me and a Colleague: A Look at Some Interesting Hong Kong Startups

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Think Hong Kong, and startups might not spring to mind.

But, as my colleague Lorraine Luk and I recently wrote, the city is home to an increasing number of tech companies working in fields like robotics, finance, bio-engineering and more.

Our intro story begins:

Casey Lau, a veteran Hong Kong Internet entrepreneur, in 2009 co-founded a networking group to promote the city’s burgeoning startup community. By 2013, the group, StartupsHK, had attracted 5,000 individual members. Today, just two years later, it has doubled in size to 10,000 people.

Among Hong Kong’s diverse startups are outfits working on artificial intelligence, Internet finance, robotics and more, as a new Wall Street Journal interactive illustrates.

One local company has developed what it says is the world’s most lifelike robots. Another is using biologically engineered fish embryos to detect toxins. And yet another has developed its own artificial intelligence software to buy and sell stocks.

Indeed, a website started by Lau’s group that provides a listing of local tech firms says Hong Kong is now home to more than 300 startups. The number of co-working spaces in the city, where tech workers share office space, has increased from just one in 2009 to 22 last year, one study found. The number of incubators and accelerators, meanwhile, has grown from six to 16 during that time. Hong Kong is also now home to at least one “hackerspace,” Dim Sum Labs, where people gather to tinker with contraptions like 3D printers and microcontrollers.

To be sure, Hong Kong — like most cities striving to become global technology hubs — is not quite Silicon Valley, and young technology firms here face some very real challenges.

Separately, we profiled six interesting startups.

There’s also a slideshow.

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On the Importance of Kindness at Work

Longtime Facebook employee Andrew Bosworth tells the story of how he learned he needed to be more respectful of others:

So why was I being sidelined? I demanded answers. Dustin did not disappoint.

He gave me a single sheet of paper. On it, in a dull monospace font, were anonymous quotes about me from my coworkers.

“Boz is one of the better engineers at Facebook” one read, and then the next “I would have a hard time working with him.”

These two statements struck me as incongruous. If I was a good engineer, why would it be hard to work with me? Of course that question was the very foundation of my problem.

“He is most interested in the truth…but more inhibited members of the team avoid any discussions with him.”

The realization hit me hard. In short, I thought my job was to be right. I thought that was how I proved my worth to the company. But that was all wrong. My job was to get things done and doing anything meaningful past a certain point requires more than one person. If you are right but nobody wants to work with you, then how valuable are you really? How much can you realistically expect to accomplish on your own? I was “winning” my way out of a job one argument at a time.

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Arsenal Players + Durian = Funny

English Premier League sides Arsenal, Everton and Stoke are coming here to Singapore in July for some pre-season exhibition matches.

Ahead of the trip, Arsenal players were asked to try the notoriously stinky durian fruit, native to Southeast Asia. Love their reactions.

The video is embedded above and on YouTube here.

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Newley’s Notes #13 Just Went out to Subscribers

In this week’s edition: The New Yorker profiles Marc Andreessen, Benedict Evans on the power of the mobile Internet, beautiful notes for commentating on soccer matches, noisy CrossFit gyms and more.

You can read it here.

Be sure to sign up to receive future dispatches.

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How to Spell My Name, According to Starbucks Baristas Across Southeast Asia

I love coffee.

I have a weird name.

And I live in Singapore and travel regularly in Southeast Asia.

That’s a recipe for some serious Starbucks barista mixups!

Herewith, a collection of misspellings of my name from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and more locations over the last year.

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This one’s from Kuala Lumpur.

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Can’t remember the location of this one.

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This one’s from Jakarta.

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Singapore, I think.

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This one’s also from KL.

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Another one from Singapore.

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And another from Singapore, I think. This one’s pretty close, and completely logical.

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Can’t remember where this one’s from. But it’s certainly phonetically accurate.

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This one’s from Manila

Life would be so boring if my name were James or John.

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