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    Monday, October 31, 2005

    Know What You Don’t Know – and Admit It from Allen Morgan

    This a very good lesson from Allen Morgan: Admit what you don't know for your start-up company. If all questions about your startup had well-known, easy answers, you’d be on your IPO roadshow, not meeting with early stage VC’s. Most good, early-stage VC’s don’t expect entrepreneurs to know everything, but they do expect entrepreneurs to know what they don’t know and to be upfront about it. This Commandment gives advice on how to handle this. To set the stage: VC’s invest in people. You’ve all heard the old saw: “To a VC, what are the three most important things about a startup?” Answer: “(1) the team, (2) the team and, (3) most of all, the team.” By and large, it’s true. Now, if you followed Commandment #1, you’re meeting with VCs who know something about your area. I know it seems hard for entrepreneurs to believe (especially given some of the comments I’ve gotten), but VC’s are generally smart people (present company excluded). They can have lots of other unattractive attributes (just like entrepreneurs and other people), but they are, on average, reasonably smart. Thus, your jaw shouldn’t drop if you find yourself in a VC meeting and you get a question about your business to which you don’t know the answer. Believe it or not, this sometimes happens. Here’s some really important advice. When this does happen: DO: admit (with confidence) that you don’t know the answer DO: make a note of the question DO: quickly find out the answer to the question DO: promptly follow up offline with the VC who asked the question DO NOT, REPEAT, DO NOT: fake your way through an evasive, oblique, or indirect attempt at an answer. I know from comments to my blog that some readers reject my proposition that VC’s are, more or less, smart folks. That’s OK. Everyone’s entitled to their own view on this matter, and, who knows, they may even be right. But, even to those doubters (if they want to raise VC money), I implore you to believe that VC’s (smart or not) do have good bullshit detectors – even in areas where they’re not necessarily domain experts. Often, of course, it’s not even that hard. Human beings are generally pretty good at reading body language, and body language usually gives away evasive behavior. To put this in a more positive light, from the VC’s perspective (no VC actually thinks about it this “formalistically”), I offer this little “algorithm”: · There’s a “list” of the important questions about any new business idea, some of which are not currently “answerable” (e.g., will the market develop as predicted by the entrepreneur); · The entrepreneur should have answers to most of the currently “answerable” questions on this “list” (e.g., why a large incumbent vendor with major brand recognition and a huge cash hoard can’t easily move into the market); and · If the entrepreneur doesn’t, he should admit it, and quickly heed the aforementioned advice about follow-up. Again, VC’s don’t expect entrepreneurs to have all the answers. As mentioned, if you did, you’d be on your IPO roadshow. VC’s do, however, expect entrepreneurs to know the “list” of important questions. Failure on this front is the real confidence deflator (though, to say the least, it also doesn’t inspire confidence if an entrepreneur doesn’t know the answers to questions that he should). Failure to heed this advice can hurt an entrepreneur in a way that might come as something of a surprise. VC’s ultimately cannot know nearly as much about your particular business as you do (see numerous references in prior Commandments). After lots of due diligence meetings, reference checks, customer calls, etc., many funding decisions more or less rest on VC intuitions about the “character” of the entrepreneurs. This is why VC’s are so much more comfortable backing entrepreneurs they already know. Keep in mind, many important questions about a startup are not answerable until the startup answers them (positively or negatively) by executing its business plan. VC’s, at least the good ones, know this. Thus, if the entrepreneur exhibits evasive behavior when answering a question, the “trustworthiness meter” starts running in reverse. Believe me, every startup will encounter situations in which the entrepreneur will have to report to the Board of Directors on a tense, critical situation, with highly imperfect information – and, after lots of analysis, the Board’s decision will often rest on beliefs about “character”. So, for any entrepreneur who wants to raise VC funding, following Commandment #8 -- (1) know a lot, (2) know what you don’t know and (3) admit it when asked -- will get you a lot farther down the road.

    eCandle notes

    Source from Nelson B. Heller & Associates Below is a good overview in marketing strategy for U of Phoenix: The University of Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ) success story is remarkably simple. Establish a brand over 25 years, improve product based on feedback, and stick to your mission. With this foundation the University of Phoenix Online, though just slightly more than a third the size of the organization's ground-based student-body, is growing rapidly. In September of 2000, the company raised $75 million for the online division with the introduction of a tracking stock for the University of Phoenix Online. The Apollo Group continues to own all assets. Some of that funding was used for an aggressive marketing campaign that included a mix of television advertising, direct mail and banner advertising. Students also arrive at the University's virtual doors through corporate referrals and referrals from students and alumni. Determining the ad source triggering an inquiry is difficult, but Tony DiGiovanni, president of the University of Phoenix Online, has a sense that the television advertising -- primarily cable buys on channels such as CNN, MSNBC and Discovery Channel -- was particularly successful. Tuition rates for the University of Phoenix Online are $400 per undergraduate unit and $495 per graduate unit. Ground-based tuition varies depending on location, but online tuition is higher. That, says DiGiovanni, is a reflection of the high technology infrastructure costs and students' willingness to pay more for convenience. Online courses also tend to be smaller, averaging 12 to 14 students per class compared to 15 to 17 students in the ground-based courses. Limited Partnerships The company has typically chosen to build rather than buy as it has developed its infrastructure for the online University, and that remains true as the recent funding has spawned further investment in infrastructure. The exceptions are few. The financial aid system is based on software from PeopleSoft. There are currently partnerships with several publishing houses such as Pearson Education and McGraw Hill to develop electronic textbooks. Assessment is developed in house, though a testing site is hosted externally. There are only occasional REPs. The University of Phoenix also owns all intellectual property rights to their courses so that they are able to repurpose and redistribute content. Instructors retain the rights to any of their own lecture notes they may add to the course. I think the U of Phoenix pretty much hit the market by its size. It now has 70,000 students enrolled in the ground-based programs and 25,700 online students. Three size of BYU. Imagine that - every single student pay 400 per credit hour, how much money do they make? I understand that we are aiming to be a non-profit company and help out the society but "In September of 2000, U of Phoenix raised $75 million for the online division with the introduction of a tracking stock for the University of Phoenix Online". Who is going to give us almost 100M to build a company beside Bill Gates? Just a comment for you Corey. I did some researches and did not find a lot of organizations doing the same thing, which means the market is open. GOOD and BAD. GOOD because it is not competitive. BAD because of regulations and high costs. I recommend that we find a Chinese student from the Marriott School to join our team. He/she gotta live in China for at least 10 to 15 years. Just by listening to he/she talking, we could learn so much about the chinese market without spending tremendous amount of time researching. Especially, from somebody left China to go to the US for a better Education. With the reputation of Dr. Liddle and Ebusiness Center, I don't think that would be a problem. We need to have the right people to accomplish great job. Legal: I don't know what gonna be the name for the company but eCANDLE Inc. is already taken. I will give more information in the team meeting. Marketing: I would recommend to do a marketing strategy for Chinese market only instead of making a big one for every single market. First of all, I do not have enough man-power to do it. Second, each market has different culture and business structure, which means each market need a different strategy. For Sarah: How can we get information from US company that go to China to do business? Especially, their marketing strategy. I would say, before any US company actually jump into China, they would spend years in researching. What is the goal for eCandle? How soon eCandle want to lauch the program? I have a couple more comments but can't remember them right now. Will update more on the team meeting. See yall!

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    How to Bargain for a House

    As Market Cools, Buyers Regain Long-Lost Negotiating Power; Want an Audi With That Condo?

    Don't you want this:

    Home buyers are finally starting to catch a break. After years of soaring real-estate prices -- not to mention periodic bidding wars for third-rate properties -- inventories of homes for sale are rising in many parts of the country. As a result, some buyers are regaining long-lost bargaining power. That gives buyers in many markets more room than they have had in years to push sellers to sweeten the pot. Buyers are asking for, and often getting, concessions ranging from help in paying their closing costs to money for repairs or redecorating. This Rhode Island home got new landscaping before being shown. And sellers in many markets -- including once-hot areas like Phoenix, San Diego and Boston -- are finding that they can no longer just slap a price on their home and expect it to move quickly. Increasingly, they are being advised to set more realistic pricing expectations and to spruce up their property with fresh paint or some new plantings out front to stand out from the crowd. In Rhode Island, where active listings are up 43% from a year earlier, some agents are going even further. Broker Ron Phipps recently offered the buyer of a 2,200-square-foot waterfront condo priced at $550,000 a two-year lease on an Audi TT sports car. The buyer applied the $18,000 value of the lease to the purchase price instead -- then bargained with the seller to kick in an additional $7,000 for closing costs and a new air-conditioning system. The re-emergence of tactics like these is notable because it could signal the end of a prolonged seller's market in some parts of the country. Some sellers are even cutting list prices outright. In Phoenix, where the number of homes on the market has climbed to 17,000 from 5,400 three months ago, "we're now constantly getting emails that prices have been reduced," says Charles McLean, broker-owner of Century 21 Metro Alliance. His advice to sellers: go "all-out" with marketing tactics like open houses. As recently as this summer, that wasn't only unnecessary, it was often impossible -- properties sometimes were selling in as little as 24 hours. In Northern Virginia, Elaine Raabe, the buyer for three stores run by the local Realtors association, says she's having trouble keeping signs that say "price reduced" in stock. For the previous two years, she says, "you couldn't keep an 'under contract' sign in the building." In San Diego, Steve Krescanko of Century 21 Award is advising clients to offer the buyer's broker a 3% commission instead of 2.5%. On a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Escondido, Calif., that recently sold for $420,000, the seller combined a 3% payout to the broker with $6,500 toward the buyer's closing costs. Buyers can get help with closing costs near San Diego. Of course, home sales traditionally slow in the fall. And if mortgage rates remain low, sales could bounce back in the spring. New-home construction surged in September, according to the Commerce Department. Sales of existing homes held steady at their second-highest level on record in September, according to the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. (That's partly because of a boost from Katrina refugees buying homes.) And many "price cuts" right now are actually deceptive: Sellers who overpriced their properties are being forced to roll back expectations -- but they're still getting more than they probably would have for the same property a year ago. On Friday, NAR said it expects sales of existing homes to climb 4.8% this year from 2004 to a record 7.1 million. Next year, however, it believes sales will fall 3.5%. NAR expects the median price of an existing home to climb 12% this year, but just 5.3% next year. Already, there are indications the market is in transition. Rising oil prices and higher interest rates may finally be taking a toll, amid concerns about an overheated housing market. A recent survey of real-estate agents by Banc of America Securities analyst Daniel Oppenheim found that selling times were rising in 19 of 20 markets. Prices in 13 markets were flat or falling, up from four in July. Although buyers in many markets have the newfound ability to start asking for concessions such as closing costs or repairs, whether they get them is another matter. It depends in part on the dynamics of the local market -- and the willingness of the seller to face reality. "We have sellers who refuse to acknowledge that the boom pricing is over," says David Lereah, chief economist of NAR. For sellers, it heightens the importance of pricing a home correctly at the outset. Homeowners can no longer look at what their neighbor received and then simply tack on a big premium. Instead, pay attention to recent sales prices of comparable properties and also size up whether the local inventory of homes for sale is rising. Sellers can also do other things to stand out, such as offering the broker a higher payout if the property is under agreement by a certain date or offering to pay the buyer's closing costs, one month's mortgage payment -- or even the heating bill, says Pat Rioux, broker-owner of ListForLess.com, a flat-fee multiple-listing placement service in Massachusetts. A builder in Portsmouth, Va. offers a bonus to the broker. Not every market is feeling the squeeze. In Charlotte, N.C., sales have been "very brisk," says Pat Riley, president of Allen Tate Co. In Seattle, inventories are down almost 19% from a year ago, says J. Lennox Scott, chairman and chief executive of John L. Scott Real Estate. But in many areas, some of the excesses of the housing boom are fading. In Washington, D.C., the number of home inspections has climbed because buyers no longer feel they have to forgo inspection to get an offer accepted, says Bo Menkiti, president of the Menkiti Group of Keller Williams Realty. Also, asking prices are dropping. Crystal Sullivan, an agent with Liz Moore & Associates in Newport News, Va., put a house she owned in Westhaven on the market in late August, priced at $182,900. She sold it six weeks later after offering a $2,500 credit for closing costs and dropping the price to $169,900. "The hurricanes, the gas prices and the war, coupled with the time of year, have really taken its toll on our area," she says. Alex Fiedorczyk, an investor in the Boston area, put a three-bedroom home on the market in September, priced at $549,000. Since then, he's dropped the price twice, to $499,000, and hired a broker instead of selling it himself. If a buyer doesn't appear before the listing expires in December, Mr. Fiedorczyk plans to pull the house off the market until spring. "It isn't worth another [price] cut," he says. The average number of showings for homes in Massachusetts fell 25% in September, compared to a year earlier, according to Mapass, an appointment-scheduling service for real-estate brokers. For some sellers, the readjustment has been painful. David D'Ausilio, an operating partner with Keller Williams Realty in Fairfield County, Conn., says one of his clients had to drop the price on an eight-year-old Colonial in Monroe three times, to $664,900 from $724,900, before accepting an offer this month. Nine to 12 months ago, the home would have sold for as much as $695,000, says Mr. D'Ausilio. "In certain price points, the market has corrected up to 10% already," he says. For the first time in several years, sellers are accepting offers that are contingent on the buyers selling their own home, he adds. Linda Baron, an agent with Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors in the Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell, Pa., says that hiring a professional "stager" helped her to quickly sell a home priced at $3 million. For about $4,000, the stager brought in silk flowers, throw pillows, bedding and rental furniture and filled a basement storage area with furniture and boxes of collectibles so that the upstairs rooms looked more spacious. "Now that we're seeing houses staying on the market longer, we're going to do it across the board," Ms. Baron says. The pressure on sellers isn't limited to coastal markets that have seen the biggest gains. In Chicago, where prices have risen steadily but not spectacularly, prices have begun to soften for higher-end properties. "A year ago, you never would hear about going back for a price reduction," says Stephen Baird, president of Baird & Warner. "Now you hear it a little bit." To move a full-floor condo with a view of Lake Michigan, his firm cut the price to $2.975 million from $3.5 million. In Houston, where inventories are declining, higher energy prices are putting a dent in the sale of existing homes. Prices are down 3% to 5% over the past year or two, says Julius Zatopek III of Re/Max on the Brazos, with homes that were built a decade or more ago taking the biggest hit because they aren't as energy efficient as new construction. From Ruth Simon @ WSJ

    The Global Climate-Change Island Guide

    The Dominican Republic is the second-most-visited spot in the Caribbean, with 800 miles of coastline, sparkling white-sand beaches, and a rare species of talkative parrot. There is, however, the small problem of hurricanes: The nation has taken direct hits from at least five in the last 10 years. It also happens to be on the only island in the Caribbean with a malaria problem. In recent years, some of its famed pink and orange coral has turned gray, and schools of tropical fish are thinning out. "It was kind of like going to see a desert underwater," says Stewart Penn, a Larchmont, N.Y., book wholesaler and diving aficionado who took a family trip to the island last Christmas. This year, the Penns are headed to Costa Rica instead. Surrounded by water and composed mainly of low-lying areas, islands are particularly subject to nature's vicissitudes, including global climate change. While the causes and implications of climate change are hugely divisive issues, few dispute that the world on average has been getting warmer -- the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1990. This year is so far the second-warmest globally since accurate thermometer readings began around 1880, according to the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This gradual warming is affecting tourist destinations around the world in ways that are subtle and not so subtle. For colder locations, some researchers suggest warming could eventually boost tourism. Elsewhere, the climate shift is helping spur everything from beach erosion to coral bleaching -- even more mosquitoes at higher altitudes. Though the temperature rise -- an average of roughly one degree Fahrenheit globally over the past century -- seems small, tiny changes can set off a chain reaction in the environment. Warmer temperatures melt glaciers and cause water to expand, making sea levels rise. Those rising waters can flood low areas and erode sandy beaches and fragile coasts. Heat in the ocean is also the main energy source for tropical storms, and most climate researchers blame the warmer Atlantic for helping fuel this year's devastating hurricane season. Coral, meanwhile, is sensitive to even slight rises in temperature. Warm water bleaches reefs by killing organisms that live inside the coral, draining reefs of color and making them more susceptible to disease and permanent damage. Since coral reefs shelter coastlines and generate sand, such damage can exacerbate erosion and flooding. In Grenada, beach erosion from tropical storms and weakened coral reefs has destroyed nesting spots for leatherback turtles -- a big tourist draw -- says Paul Phillip, a marine biologist in the Grenada Department of Fisheries. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, erosion has erased about nine miles of beach -- equivalent to 7% of the shoreline -- in the last century, says Sam Lemmo, a conservation officer in Hawaii's Coastal Lands Program. St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is experiencing the island's worst-known bout of coral bleaching due to record-high water temperatures this summer and fall, says Caroline Rogers, a marine biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. At Low Key Watersports, one of the island's big dive operators, manager Ellen Winsor says she now plays down the coral on some dives, instead selling customers on the chance to visit a shipwreck, pet a sting ray or spot an eel. Picking a better beach: Prince Edward Island did well in our index. Not all islands are affected equally. For instance, water on the eastern side of ocean basins tends to be cooler, making hurricanes less likely for islands like the Azores and Tahiti. The shape of individual islands plays a role, too. Those with high cliffs can shade offshore areas from sunlight, keeping things cooler and helping protect the coral. With winter booking season for island getaways hitting full swing, we wanted to find out which islands are most at risk from climate change. Consulting with climatologists and statisticians, we developed an island risk index. We crunched data for 40 islands, from Tuvalu in the Pacific to Sicily in the Mediterranean, factoring in everything from temperature changes to hurricane landfalls. While hurricane season lasts only a few months, ending in the Caribbean, for example, in November, it can have long-lasting effects on coral reefs and beaches. The index is weighted to take into account that some variables have more impact than others. We also included other natural hazards, including volcanic eruptions and malaria, which has affected tourists on Asian islands as well as the Dominican Republic in recent years. (See "Behind the Index.") Curaçao also scored high. The results showed that the risks for tourists can vary quite a bit. Fiji, for instance, may have a romantic South Pacific ring to it -- but four severe typhoons have made landfall there in the last 20 years, which helped put it near the bottom of our rankings. Fiji's risk level was also slightly increased by the presence of volcanoes; a volcano that has bubbled over within the last 10,000 years can erupt again at any time, says John Ewert, a volcanologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. But the prospects are better at Cape Verde, a set of islands off the west coast of Africa that drew some 157,000 tourists last year and tied for 11th best in our risk index. You might think that a place that has a type of hurricane named after it isn't a place you want to be in the winter. But while hurricanes tend to begin forming nearby, they head west before causing damage. And, because the islands are volcanically formed, their topography is diverse enough to create a barrier against flooding and tsunamis. If you really want to minimize your risk, think north -- far north. Clocking in with the lowest risk index was Canada's Prince Edward Island, where one of the most popular attractions is the house that inspired the "Anne of Green Gables" story. Full disclosure: While its white-sand beaches are popular in summer, the average temperature in December is 24 degrees. Martha's Vineyard also fared well in our index, with the second-lowest risk rating and ahead of highly ranked Curacao and the Florida Keys. Of course, it's easily possible to have a great vacation even in places that scored relatively poorly in our risk index. Hawaii, for example, came in 30th in our list, with its score partly hampered by hurricanes that hit Kauai. And no index can perfectly model -- let alone predict -- weather and other natural risks. Though bad weather is influenced by natural cycles and geography, chance plays a big role as well. To design the index and decide how to weight factors in it, we consulted several statisticians and scientists, including Michael Mastrandrea, a Stanford University researcher who models risks from climate change. To help compensate for varying methods of gathering weather data around the world, we relied largely on data collected by NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Here are snapshots of five islands in our index and how they are affected by -- and dealing with -- recent changes in nature. They're listed in order from least to most risky based on our rankings. Bonaire Most of the Caribbean has been hit hard by coral bleaching because of warmer water. But Bonaire, 50 miles off the Venezuelan coast, has managed to preserve large swaths of reef. It took early steps to protect its fragile coral, passing laws in the 1970s that banned spearguns. In April, it raised the entrance fee for divers to get into a marine park around the island to $25 from $10 -- some of the proceeds go toward monitoring the reefs. Also, its coral reefs and beaches are largely outside the hurricane belt, which helps to shelter them from the intense waves and tropical storms. This was part of the reason that Bonaire finished sixth in our index. St. John was more middling in the index. Christmas kicks off the high season, but some hotels are offering deals in November and December. The Harbour Village Beach Club has a Dive Into Luxury package through Dec. 17 that includes seven nights and six days of diving -- fees for the second diver are waived. Rates for a one-bedroom beachfront suite start at $1,875. Crete Like all Mediterranean islands, Crete is relatively safe from hurricanes; and there have been no serious natural disasters on the island in at least the last 20 years. (Crete came in eighth in our test.) In part because the Mediterranean occupies a smaller, shallower basin than some oceans, temperatures have risen more dramatically, which can be nice for swimmers. "It was a perfect temperature," says Wendi Berkowitz, a San Francisco attorney who traveled to Crete with her husband this fall and went for a dip in Elounda Bay. The island is known for its Greek ruins. In October, archaeologists discovered two life-size marble statues of the Greek goddesses Athena and Hera, dating to between the second and fourth centuries, in the town of Gortyn. The island is also a mecca for foodies. Crete's Culinary Sanctuaries is offering tours of two new organic olive farms on the west side of the island this winter. A six-day package starts at $1,600 and includes meetings with local cooks, tours of ruins, hikes through gorges and accommodations. Galapagos The Galapagos Islands tied for 11th on our list. They are close to the equator and surrounded by cool water, which keeps tropical storms from forming. But the islands also have a volcano that erupted just last week for the first time since 1979. The biggest threats to the Galapagos come from people rather than nature. The Galapagos National Park Service now restricts immigration from mainland Ecuador because population increases were straining the natural resources. Dominican Republic was further down the list. For years, tourists could see the islands only via a floating tour boat. But in recent years, the burgeoning tourist industry has started building hotels on land, like the Royal Palm Hotel on Santa Cruz. There's also been an upsurge in environmentally focused tourist cruises, from companies like Lindblad Expeditions, which last fall added a new boat that has a floating spa and recently got government permission to offer sea kayaking. Bahamas The Bahamas are in the heart of the hurricane zone -- one of the islands has been struck by more of them than any other Caribbean island in the last century. That's the main reason why the Bahamas came in 23rd on our list. As big-name hotel developers continue to stream in, locals are beginning to pay more attention to other kinds of natural threats, according to environmentalists. Groups like the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation organize beach-restoration projects, and environmental groups persuaded the government to ban grouper fishing for five weeks this winter. It's one of the most popular travel spots in the Caribbean region, partly because it has so many direct flights from the U.S. A sample package deal: round-trip airfare and three nights' stay at the Vegas-style megaresort Atlantis on Paradise Island, starting at $464 per person (via Orbitz). Oahu, Hawaii The state's 24 miles of swimmable beach are eroding fast, according to some scientists. But Oahu has some of the best-preserved beaches on the state, says Chip Fletcher, a coastal geologist at the University of Hawaii. This winter, the state's Coastal Lands Program will put $450,000 into dumping 10,000 cubic yards of offshore sand back onto Oahu's Waikiki Beach, which gets 8.5 million visitors a year. To get away from the crowds -- Oahu is by far the most popular of Hawaii's big islands -- go to the north-shore beaches, about an hour by car from Honolulu, says Mr. Fletcher. He recommends Kailua Beach, which naturally replenishes its own sand, and Malaekahana, a more rugged beach park. For travelers looking to island-hop, two new airlines, including FlyHawaii, will begin service next year. From WSJ by By JACOB HALE RUSSELL and JESS MCCUAN

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    Raining Saturday

    It has been raining all day. Very boring and I am stress out too. I am gonna go to SLC visit Mimosa. I haven't been there forever. Finally, I can go and get some good food. Ernst & Young is comming in 4 days and I have so many things need to be done. Yeah, this is the real life: I don't even know what I am typing. Anyway, God bless!

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    The revolution for paper writing - Essaypedia

    Ipod 2005:
    Essaypedia is the best idea I ever heard about. Now let's imagine, each college students post only one essay on the internet. How many essays are that? Uncountable, aren't they? Essaypedia knows that there are no website that provide free student's database on the internet yet and they jump right into it. Brilliant. I can see 1 year from now, when somebody need some research materials in order to write an paper, all they have to do is go to Essaypedia and do a search. Very likely, somebody from somewhere else already did the same paper. Now it goes to honesty issue, if the students will copy the exact same essay from Essaypedia to submit for their class or not? The other function of essaypedia is they let you edit free, so you can actually work a group project on their website by have every team members go to an url and edit the same page. And this is the best part, they give out an Ipod, sponsor by Ecompares to the best author of the month. I want an free ipod, do you? I would say, don't throw you essay away, get it in Essaypedia, build your own database and earn an Ipod for your contribution.

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    The US domination around the world - who's going to end this?

    This is one article in the WSJ: "U.S. law currently forbids non-U.S. citizens from owning more than 25% of the voting shares of a U.S. airline, limits foreigners' role in the management of U.S. airlines and stipulates that U.S. airlines must operate under the control of U.S. citizens. Similar rules exist in countries around the world, although inside the EU such limits have been eliminated. A major change to the U.S. rules would require an act of Congress, so it remains unclear what the administration can do outside the cumbersome legislative process." Three top US airline company is running under chapter 11 and they are still keep great pride in their economy. GM is in great danger and who know what happens next? I think people should all go to China and dump a lot of money in there instead of thinking US as a promise land. I read one article from the Businessweek talk about a lot of chinese executive had left the multi-international companies and work as CFO, CEO for the mainland corporations. It also comment that any white-collar worker would not even think about that if it was five years ago. I would still believe the the US economy will donimate the world for at least 10 more years but eventually, somebody need to put the end to it. China, Japan, the Europian Union.. or whoever else, let's wait and see.

    Bad day

    I felt so down. Am I over confidence in myself? Union Pacific turned me down. I could not believe it when I talked to the girl at the Career Center. I was so ready to dress up to go to lunch with them. What did I do wrong? Why and how? I keep thinking about it and can't figure out. Worst day of the month.

    LIFE SUCKS:

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    My friends

    Well, let me introduce to you two brilliant individual. Tony Duong and Lani Phan - Founders of CafeBuon, one of the highest traffic forum website. They are also the Co-Founder of Ecompares - my best friends - my best co-worker. They had done a lot of amazing work in the internet business. I can't count how many "value-added" domains that they have on hands. They also work great as a team and "couple" <-- I am not so sure about this :). God bless them. And here is my lovely "the other". She is going to fly to San Francisco and New York City on November for 4 different companies. Well, I think she likes Califonia better but come on now, I love NYC. Good luck babie, may Mr. T be with you!

    Sundance on October 2006:

    How to make money from your blog

    I found some good information from the Washington Post about making money of your blog. I think it applys perfectly from start-up blog. First of all LET GOOGLE WORK FOR YOU. Selling ad space might be the oldest way to make a buck, and with Google's free AdSense service (www.google.com/adsense), it's way too easy. AdSense allows bloggers to display up to three content-specific "ad units" (boxes that can hold up to four ads each) per page. "If you're writing about sports cars, they'll be ads about sports cars," says Biz Stone, Blogger senior specialist at Google. Each time a visitor clicks these ads, you get paid. Google doesn't disclose its exact share of the revenue, but a personalized report page lets you track your own earnings. Earn at least $100 and Google sends you a check. <-- Ain't that sweet? PLAY AD-SALES EXEC: If you want more control over the ads on your blog, hit www.blogads.com. BlogAds lets you join its database free and set your own ad prices. Companies (including media bigs such as Paramount Pictures and Random House) then search for suitable blogs and purchase ad space for a set period -- say, one month. In contrast to the way AdSense works, your earnings don't depend on whether a reader clicks the ad. All you have to do is give 20 percent of your net revenue to Mr. BlogAd, and you keep the rest. Perhaps best of all, you can indulge your megalomaniacal tendencies by approving or declining potential ads at will. For me, I think 20% is one hek of a deal. I would really recommend this. BE THE MIDDLEMAN - AFFILIATE. Many companies run "affiliate" programs, you can see one example at Ecompares. Post an ad provided by Amazon.com or Lands' End, for example, and receive a small commission every time your readers click that ad, go to the company's Web site and end up buying a book or splurging on a down parka. Referral fees -- the cash you get from these transactions -- vary (you can earn as much as 10 percent per sale from Amazon). LinkShare (www.linkshare.com) claims to run the Internet's biggest "affiliate marketing network," with more than 600 companies on its roster of advertisers. Another service, Commission Junction (www.cj.com), runs programs for eBay and Expedia.com, among others. There are a lot more way to make money of your blog and personally I think, if you do good, you will make even more money if you work for CNN.

    Ebay and the SKYPE story

    Ebay announced that their revenue rose 37% to $1.11 billion from $805.9 million. U.S. marketplace revenue rose 29% to $449.5 million, while international marketplace revenue rose 43% to $408.9 million. I would say amazing and wonder myself when I can make the same announcement for Ecompares. Anyway, Skype is what came across my mind. Why people are so in favor with VOL-IP telephone or any related internet communication project. Allianza won the BYU Business competition plan by bring the same model that made by some other company in the US to the Mexican market. And now they are making millions. Am I missing out something? I know it is a slick and new way of communication but come on now, show me something new with you. WSJ stated: ""We saw very strong growth across every part of our business in Q3," said eBay CEO Meg Whitman in a prepared statement. The company said it had a record 458.6 million auction listings in the quarter. Last month, eBay made its largest-ever acquisition by paying $2.6 billion in cash and stock for Skype, a Luxembourg firm that enables telephone calls over the Internet. EBay says Skype could generate new revenue from existing content, such as classified ads, and help it penetrate developing markets such as Russia and China. But some investors and analysts are worried that Skype is a deviation from its usual business model." I can easily go and and hire some tech guys to make me a Internet telephone software within a month. Test it for 3 month and probably have it launching by 6 months. But since so many companies offer the same services now: How can I stand out? The internet market is crazy, I would say: everything is about MARKETING, if you know how to market your company right <-- --> You will get paid off ... extremelly good... Ebayer use Skype phone (FUTURE):

    Paul Allen blog

    Guess what, today I was going to Paul Allen blog's this is what it see:

    Paul Allen blog @ 10/19/2005 10.23am:

    I don't know what's going on with his blog or it is just a joke he make for his one year old birthday blog. The domain's name is still taken so I hope it is gonna back up any time soon. Yesterday, Dave Batterman CEO of dearelder.com and propertysolution.com come and talk to us about internet marketing. This is a very young and successful entreprenuer. But he was more in the favor of offline marketing: fliers, newspaper, billboard and even put his banner on the football game <-- I think it is lame but hei! he is rich now. He gave some very good piece of information about buying domain: - Write an email to the owner and act like you are a very poor student. You have a small project to do with school and need that domain to back up for the material. Ask about buying the domain and mention that you don't have much money. Also mention that the domain is worth more than what you pay, but that is the best you can afford. Dear Mr. X It is Mike from Brigham Young University and I am currently working on a school project related to xxxx. I really want to buy your domain name so I can present my material on the real website. That would give me a lot of credit for my class. I would like to know how much do you want for the domain. I don't have a lot of money but I really really hope we can work it out. Sincerely, Mike <---- The lamest letter I ever written but hei if this gonna help you out.... Drop me a line and say thank you :) Finally, picture of the day:

    My study table:

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Sundance Pictures

    We went to Sundance yesterday, probably for the last time of this autumn before it has some snow. Very beautiful.

    This can be a great wallspaper:

    Just another beautiful scence:

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Story of the day - DVD Jon

    Today, I was reading about DVD Jon on WSJ. To be honest, even though he broke the US law but I admire him for what he's been doing. Looking at it in a different way, if he knew how to put his talent in some kind of business, he is going to be a second Bill Gates someday. It is amazing how a 21 y/o kid can become the worst nightmare for the whole movie and music industry. And now, since he is aiming at Apple and its iTunes, I dont know what he is going to expect in the next few month. If he is able to crack iTunes and its copyright code, (which I think very likely to happen), he's better be careful with what he gonna do with it. He also mention he wants to go to Sounthern Califonia, hmmm.. how does this work with the US government? Maybe they will let him come over here and then capture him, send him to jail for a couple of years and probably recruite him to some high-level tech army camp later. Anyway, if you want to read about DVD Jon: Here is the post from WSJ. "Jon Lech Johansen dropped out of high school after just one year. He lives alone most of the time, except when he stays with his parents in his native Norway. The 21-year-old doesn't drive, rarely goes to parties and says he has no close friends, except his father. He spends about nine hours a day in front of his computer screen. Yet this reclusive young Norwegian is the man who may be the entertainment industry's worst nightmare. Mr. Johansen, Hollywood executives claim, has done more than almost anyone in the world to ignite the explosion of movie piracy on the Internet, costing them billions of dollars in lost sales. He scoffs at that. Jon Lech Johansen says people should be able to use legally bought digital entertainment however they like. At the age of 15, Mr. Johansen wrote a computer program that allowed users to copy DVDs. Then he posted it on the Internet. A Norwegian private school awarded him a prize for making an outstanding contribution to society. The Norwegian government indicted him. Mr. Johansen, whom the local press dubbed "DVD Jon," was tried twice in Oslo in criminal proceedings that featured testimony from Hollywood executives who maintained his program had unleashed a tidal wave of piracy. Supporters organized on the Internet and printed T-shirts and ties emblazoned with Mr. Johansen's software code; it even inspired a haiku. A small group marched in Oslo's May Day parade carrying a sign that read, "Free DVD-Jon." Mr. Johansen was acquitted both times. He has since moved on. These days he is targeting Apple Computer Inc., repeatedly hacking the software that runs its popular, Internet-based iTunes music store to remove restrictions on how many times legally bought songs can be copied or on which devices they can be played. And Mr. Johansen says he may take a look at the new version of iTunes Apple released this week, which offers TV shows that can be played on new iPods -- although he's not too interested in trying to defeat its anticopy technology yet because he says the shows' video resolution is too low to look good on computers or TV sets. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on Mr. Johansen. Mr. Johansen may not be a household name in America. But he is lionized by people who, like him, believe that when they legally buy digital entertainment they should be free to use it as they please; fans have downloaded more than a million copies of his free software programs. To others, he's a menace. His programs "spawned a whole new industry" of downloading pirated movies, says Andy Setos, president of engineering for News Corp.'s Fox Group. "Our profitability has been hurt." He also says Mr. Johansen's acquittals "caused people to begin to believe that it was OK to ignore" DVD copyrights. A recent study by Student Monitor LLC, which tracks trends on college campuses, found 67% of undergraduates are either "in favor" of downloading pirated music or movies, or find it "acceptable because everyone does it." And it's not just kids -- the head of one music label privately admits his father uses Mr. Johansen's program to duplicate rental DVDs "so he doesn't have to pay late charges." For his part, Mr. Johansen says he's no pirate and respects copyrights. People who use his programs for illegal purposes should be prosecuted, he says. He also disapproves of hackers who spread computer viruses or break into corporate security systems. But Mr. Johansen vows to continue unlocking the digital restrictions placed on copyrighted online entertainment, known in the industry as "digital rights management." He describes himself as a defender of consumer digital rights, and says his software tools are aimed at an industry that is penalizing honest buyers by, among other things, forcing them to watch commercials or haul around their DVDs when they travel instead of letting them copy them to their laptops. "I don't mind paying for good products," he says. "But when I do pay I want to use those products the way I prefer." Emboldened by his acquittals, he regularly boasts of his exploits on an online diary, or blog. He calls it "So Sue Me." Piracy of copyrighted entertainment isn't new. For years, people copied record albums onto cassette tapes and traded them, a violation of copyright law that was generally overlooked because the quality of the copies wasn't great. But with the advent of digital entertainment on compact discs and more powerful personal computers, perfect copies could be made easily. The music industry initially took no technological steps to prevent copying from CDs. When DVDs were introduced in 1997, the film industry encrypted their content to try to avoid the piracy then already beginning to plague the music business. In Hollywood's view, Mr. Johansen sparked a huge increase in movie pirating around the world by posting his program on the Internet. Mr. Johansen disputes this, arguing the biggest film pirates mass produce DVDs using the same equipment the industry uses, not his software program. Diamond Multimedia's Rio, an MP3 digital music player hit the market in October 1998 for less than $200. This summer, inside a small, rented vacation house in a village near St. Tropez, Mr. Johansen's younger sister, Cathrine, 16, and a friend were watching an episode in English of the California-based TV series, "The O.C.," on a legally purchased DVD. His father, Per, a bearded, 54-year-old retired postal service manager, and his mother, Maria, were preparing lunch. Mr. Johansen was upstairs, taking a shower. He came down a few minutes later, a husky young man, with short-cropped dark hair, a wisp of a beard and pale skin despite the searing Mediterranean sun. Except for the facial hair, he is a young duplicate of his father; they even wear identical, rectangular-shaped, wire-rimmed glasses. The younger Mr. Johansen left high school when he was 16, "because school wasn't challenging at all," he says. He worked briefly at a Norwegian interactive-television company and then spent two years at a startup that was developing a payment system for cellphones. He learned to speak fluent English mostly by watching American movies and using computer programs. "Life outside school has proven to be much more educational," he says. He says he currently earns about $4,500 a month as a developer for a French software-consulting business he set up with his father. Their business card shows a color photo of a multi-storied, high-tech building. The company's headquarters? No, Per Johansen says with a laugh -- he got the image from a Web site that offers free business cards. Their company actually is based in a modest house in Provence where Mr. Johansen lives most of the year and it has only a handful of clients. Growing up, Jon Johansen wasn't an average child, his father recalls. "When other parents had to yell at their children to do their homework, I had to say, 'You've done enough now. Can't you go out and play?' " Mai Grimholt, who taught Mr. Johansen in middle school, remembers a serious student who liked politics and wasn't afraid to take unpopular views, such as arguing Norway should join the European Union, something the country hasn't done. "He would stand up for what he believed in," Ms. Grimholt says. She remembers another thing: He knew more about computers "than any of the teachers who had ever studied computers." Mr. Johansen says he was writing simple programs at the age of 12. It was a passion he shared with his father, who, without his wife's knowledge, once spent three months of his salary on a personal computer. By 14, he had surpassed his father's computer skills. His father says he realized this after buying a digital camera that came with software to transfer photos to a PC. Frustrated because the program kept crashing, he says he showed it to his son, who "reverse-engineered it and wrote small, tiny software" to do the job. While the original program required about 25 steps to transfer photos, his son's worked with just one. "It never crashed," Per Johansen says. Shawn Fanning, co-founder of Napster, reacts to a 9th District Court of Appeals ruling in a copyright case against Napster in March 2001. The younger Mr. Johansen's other great love was movies -- he had purchased more than 300 DVDs -- and in 1999 he bought a kit to play them on his own computer. He created a Web page and oversaw an online discussion group about the equipment. He also wrote a program to defeat the geographical-coding restrictions on the DVD player so he could watch American discs -- which cost much less than ones sold in Norway but wouldn't play on European machines. He posted his program on his Web page to share it with others. Mr. Johansen also wanted to copy DVDs to the hard drive, or stored memory, of his PC, a process known as "ripping," so, among other things, he didn't always have to take DVDs with him when he traveled. In September 1999, Mr. Johansen enlisted the help of his online discussion group, whose members went by pseudonyms. With their contributions -- one of them figured out how to circumvent the encryption -- he wrote a simple program that quickly ripped DVDs. After testing it successfully on his own legal copies of "The Matrix" and "The Fifth Element," he posted it on his Web site. Unlike his confederates -- to this day he says he doesn't know their real identities -- he made no secret of his name because he believed he hadn't done anything wrong. Per Johansen says he was aware of what his son had done, and "thought it might be a legal problem." It also attracted the attention of the media. Within weeks, stories began appearing that identified his son as the teenager who cracked the encryption code for DVDs, realizing Hollywood's worst fear. The international affiliate of the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents Hollywood studios, asked the youngster to remove his program from the Internet. He complied, but re-posted it about a week later after his father consulted a lawyer and became convinced the program was legal. The younger Mr. Johansen became instantly famous in Norway. His former teacher, Ms. Grimholt, sent him a congratulatory email. "Jon, the sky's the limit," she wrote. At a ceremony on Jan. 15, 2000, a private Oslo school presented him with the Karoline Prize, awarded annually to a top high-school student. It carried an award of about $2,000. Mr. Johansen says he spent more than half of it on a top-of-the-line Sony DVD player. Nine days later, Norwegian police officers, acting on a complaint from the MPAA's international affiliate, raided Mr. Johansen's house and seized his computer. They brought the teen and his father to the station and interrogated them each for about seven hours. Jon Lech Johansen says he cooperated, even providing the police with passwords to his PC. "I thought I had nothing to hide," he says, adding, "I was naïve." In 2002, Jon Lech Johansen was indicted on charges of gaining unauthorized access to a DVD and causing damage by posting his program on the Internet. By that time, a federal judge in New York had already ruled, in a civil case brought by Hollywood studios, that publishing or linking to Mr. Johansen's program on the Internet violated U.S. law. With his criminal indictment, the Norwegian teen became a cause celebre across the Internet. And not just among movie and music downloaders, but among computer programmers and free-speech advocates as well. Hakon Wium Lie, a Norwegian computer engineer, carried a "Free DVD-Jon" sign in the 2002 May Day parade in Oslo and picketed a police station. "The sight of policemen running into this child's room I think upset a lot of people," says Mr. Lie, who is chief technology officer of Opera Software, an Oslo company that developed an alternative Web browser to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. "Some of us felt, including myself, that we might be the target next time." David S. Touretzky, a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, says many professional computer programmers "were outraged" over the prosecution of Mr. Johansen, because they considered posting a program on the Internet a matter of free speech. Dr. Touretzky says he continues to admire Mr. Johansen, especially his latest campaign against Apple. "He's still doing it. The guy's unrepentant," he says. "It's great." The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that favors fewer restrictions on digital technology, financed Mr. Johansen's initial legal costs. "He made a laughing stock of Hollywood, basically by showing that a 15-year-old kid could break through their super security system...that was protecting their billion-dollar market," says John Gilmore, one of the group's founders. Halvor Manshaus, a young Oslo private attorney who normally represents intellectual property holders such as publishers, volunteered to serve as the youth's public defender. "My feeling was he was outmatched," Mr. Manshaus says. It was the attorney's first criminal trial. Activists representing consumers and artists clash outside the U.S. Supreme Court in March, following hearings on file sharing. For six days in December 2002, a three-judge panel heard the case in Oslo. The head of the DVD-licensing organization flew in from California to testify. Over two days, Mr. Johansen calmly explained what he had done and how he did it. The trial mesmerized Norway; the verdict was broadcast live on the radio. In the end, the court found that because he had legally purchased the DVDs he had ripped, there was nothing wrong with making copies for his own private use. The judges also found that even though he had posted his program on the Internet, there was no actual proof that it had been used for illegal purposes. Afterward, on the courthouse steps, Mr. Johansen declared he was going home to watch a DVD stored on his computer's hard drive. Norwegian prosecutors appealed the verdict. Mr. Johansen was retried in December 2003. Again, he was acquitted. "We made him a star," says Thomas Dillon, an attorney for the MPAA in Brussels. That time, the judges noted that downloading movies wasn't practical in 1999 because broadband wasn't widely available and it could take 12 days to transfer a full-length feature film using a dial-up connection. Chief prosecutor Inger Marie Sunde now says the Norwegian government's case against Mr. Johansen was hindered by an ambiguous law and the difficulty in proving "the connection between something that you have posted on the Internet and the damage done by it." Even before his retrial began, and to the dismay of his own attorney, Mr. Johansen began going after Apple. He says he spent 80 hours dissecting iTunes, figuring out how it places digital restrictions on songs and how to circumvent them. In Mr. Johansen's view, Apple's restrictions on iTunes songs -- which, among other things, limit the number of times purchased songs can be copied without a loss of quality -- are "even worse than DVDs" because Apple retains the right to change the rules even after a consumer buys a song. "What will they allow you to do tomorrow?" he asks. Mr. Johansen also recently circumvented -- in less than an hour -- an early version of a Google Inc. video-player program that only played Google-authorized videos. With his "patch," the program could play other videos as well, including pirated ones. Google has since updated its video technology. In the six years since Mr. Johansen posted his DVD-copying software on the Internet, the online world has been transformed. High-speed Internet has become available globally and a feature film now can be downloaded in as little as 12 minutes. A slew of other software tools to rip DVDs have surfaced. To the dismay of the film industry, piracy not only has mushroomed, but has become morally acceptable to many -- one studio says its internal research shows that a majority of Americans see nothing wrong with it. Meanwhile, Hollywood and the high-tech industry are now haggling over the next generation of DVDs, which they promise will have much stronger anti-copy protection but privately concede will never be completely hacker-proof. Movie studios also vow to address some of Mr. Johansen's complaints, offering consumers new options like allowing films to be copied onto hard drives legally, but probably for a price. In June, Norway overhauled its copyright law, making illegal the posting of a program that defeats a DVD's anti-copy protection technology. As for Mr. Johansen, he now says he plans to move to a different jurisdiction with more job opportunities and a better climate -- southern California. He hopes to take a job in the computer industry. "Of course," he says, "when I'm in the U.S., I will take great care not to break any U.S. law."

    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Thought of the day

    Today, I was reading Paul Allen blog and I saw he blog about Amy Lewis. I had a chance to hear her speak on one of my entreprenuer class last semester. A very smart and successful lady. (She is hot too:) Here is Amy's stuff point I got from Paul Allen blog: "....Hire the Right People for the Management Team: . Different Skill Sets (area of expertise) . Same Core Values * Examples of Core Values: Hardworking Integrity Willing to say what they think (w/out fear of being wrong) Willing to admit when someone else has a better way or idea Genuinely Humble yet Confident Loyal Optimistic about the future and the people they lead Respectful of all others Willingness to make decisions (even if they're wrong) - has guts! .." I love to listen to all those people. So much to learn from them. Oh, I did not mention about John Breese. He is the founder of Backcountry.com and dogfunk.com. One good advice I got from him was: Focus in one and master in it. It is better than doing so many things and they are all average. I talked with Tung, Lan about it and we decided to work on Books and digital products for start up. I think it is a good idea too. Once we get good, we'll flood the entire world. :) For now, I would say just BE COOL! Tung got so cracky with me because I froze the server yesterday. I felt so bad but no pain-no gain. I hope I did not mess up his website.

    Pic of the day:

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    Ford Motor Company

    Wow.. that was what I said. Very impressive infor session. Ford is a fortune 5 company and last year revenue was 170 billion. Mitch Lord was giving presetation today. He worked for Ford for 16 years and now is the regional manger. If you are interested in Ford, put your resume in here: http://www.mycareer.ford.com/main.asp They pay around 40k/year for entry level and you will be in charge dealing with car dealers. Sound pretty powerful,eh?

    Done with interview

    Well, it turned out that Walgreen is not interested in me at all. Just kidding! They are not hiring intern until Feb 2006, and Robert (Provo Store Manager) suggest me to re-apply later. The interview turned out to be a chit chat between me and him. Not so bad. I learned more about the retail industry. I told him if I am not getting anything this semester, I would apply for Walgreen next semester. (Am I being too cool? - E&Y better take me or I die:) Tonight the BYUMA has a Ford Motor session. I am so wanna stay home and study for my BusM exam but eventually, I need to show off for the leadership meeting anyway. Oh well... free food and cool people - I can live with that. What if I am interested in Ford? I have no idea what they do and what job they are offering. I guess they need some marketing gurru rather than some financial planning kind of guy. Seems like the retail industry is my karma. Everywhere I go, I gotta see some of it. Let's see what is new today.

    Ford Motor Company:

    Walgreen day

    Today I have an interview with Walgreen at 3.30pm. Not really so excited about it though. I hope I do well so I have another back up plan.

    Walgreen:

    Done for tonight

    Oh well, finanlly... I am done with all the design. It really help to know a lil bit HTML. Start from tomorrow, I will put some good thoughts in here. Before I think I just gonna get a blog for my Internet marketing class but now, I like it. We'll see how it goes.

    My wishlist for Xmas 2006:

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    First post

    I just set up my blog. Just want to see how it works.