A Weekend in the Bean

Two weekends ago I was hanging with a few of my friends from MIT here in the City. Miss SQ was in town, and decided to grace us with her presence. When we get together (Mr. M being the third spoke on our wheel of fun), we tend to have the best of times. As the night wore on (and the spirits kicked in), Mr. M and I joked about going to Boston the following weekend to visit Ms. SQ at the esteemed Harvard Business School (she’s wrapping up her second year there).

And so, yeah. Just like that, I found myself on the road to Boston this past weekend.

The weather was right, so our first stop was on the patio of Stepahnie’s on Newbury (street) for lunch. It seems as though everyone in the Bean was hype for the nice weather, so we noticed a lot of half-dressed people milling about. I think New Yorkers are in denial about the warm weather, but not Bostonians. It’s early April, and anything over 63 degrees before the third week in April is cause for sun worship.

Stephanie's on Newbury

I’ve had a few friends (mostly sorors) go through HBS, but I’d never really been to campus just to hang out and look around. HBS isn’t on the main Harvard campus (been there, done that), but it’s across the Charles River, which may as well be considered no man’s land. It was nice to get to see a part of Harvard I wasn’t used to seeing, though.

Harvard Business School

Anyhoo. Being the MIT oldheads we are, we decided to go to a dance show being held at Kresge auditorium on MITs campus Saturday night. You know, to see what the kids are up to these days.

77 Mass Ave

Fanny Pack from ABDC performed, as well as a lot of Boston area dance teams from various local schools and organizations. My favorite? Lil Phunk, a dance team of kids ages 5-13. They were dope. I would recommend you go find their performances on YouTube, but the YT videos don’t do them justice. Their energy at a live performance will give you life!

After that, we hit up ye olde Harvard Square. Everytime I go to Harvard Square, there are new shops in place of old shops I used to visit during undergrad. I guess I expected Harvard Square (and other parts of Cambridge) to freeze in time once I left. Hong Kong is still there, so we had a scorpion bowl, just like old times.

Scorpion bowl from Hong Kong Cambridge

We hit up the afterparty, where I felt super old as someone said they were class of 2011. I remember when my MIT acceptance letter said Class of 2003 and I thought I’d never see that year, it seemed so far off. Since it was the day of the iPad release, someone in the room had an iPad.

Miss SQ, Scorpion Bowl umbrella in her hair

iPad

I took it for a spin, looking up flights to Tokyo. Yes, the three of us are thinking about taking our show of fun on the international road. We already promised over spirits, so that seals the deal, right?

Kaya app on iPad

$680 round trip, non-stop to Tokyo? Sign me up.

All blurry pics via iPhone, some taken with the Hipstamatic app + mod packs. More pics in my Flickr set.

Links, Travel and Speaking: These are a few of my favorite things

A quick little update to drop some info and links to you.

1) This post from 37Signals (LOVE THEM!!11) entitled, The bar for success in our industry is too low, is the DOPEness. Go read it. Now. I think people have this e-game twisted, wanting to be the next YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, not knowing that these companies don’t (yet) turn a profit and have huge bills to pay. Get your mind right! Some of these new school wannabe web-treprenuers need to take heed and make sure they’re ready for this long haul, because turning a profit is not that easy no matter how many impressions you get everyday.

2) All that being said (lol), my company turns one year old this week. This time last year was my last week at a ‘real’ job, and my company documents were filed with the state of California. I wrote about what I’ve learned over the past year for this week’s issue of Clutch Magazine. Do I think about going back to the real world? Of course! Every one of my clients wants to hire me fulltime, and I keep declining. It’s tempting. We’ll see, I still need to do some goal setting and planning for myself. I admit I am at a bit of a crossroads, but for the time being I am having fun and to me that’s all that matters at this point in my life.

3) Did you vote for my SXSW panel, Online Gatekeeping: Who Died and Made You King? Yes? GOOD. Now please go vote for another panel I have asked to be on, Hacking the Extrovert: Real World Tips for Being Social … Offline!  You only have one day left to vote!

4) I’M GOING TO COSTA RICA!!!! I’ve been secretly planning a getaway with my ace boon, Jen, and we’ve finally selected Costa Rica as our travel poison. We will also be joined by the lovely Ouxu (who, btw is my internet friend and I have never met her in person–I love the Internets!), and some other surprise guests. Hopefully I will take a lot of pictures…and publish them to the web! (read: don’t get your hopes up, I still have last year’s Brazil trip pics on my desktop).

5) Later this month I’ll be speaking at your favorite institution, MIT, for their Alumni Leadership Conference. I’ll be on a panel about social media marketing, which is interesting to me because last month I guest lectured a class on social media marketing at your other favorite institution–the Fashion Institute of Technology. Who’s next? I’m excited to see campus again, but I am NOT excited to feel old amongst all the current students. I remember as an undergrad, I would wonder who all the “old” people on campus were whenever this conference came to town. Now, I am those “old people.”

6) I should blog more often, I feel odd writing long posts these days. I am a fan of keeping it short and sweet on blogs. Thanks for reading!

The '21' Experience

The other night, I went to the opening of 21, with some local MIT alumni. My girl Charisse organized a get together of MIT folks to see a 21+ showing at the Arclight in Hollywood. No, there were no extra ‘adult’ scenes in the film, or anything. Arclight 21+ showings just have a bar outside the theater, and you can take your drinks inside with you, if you like.

Trust me, we needed the drinks.

The film was….laughable. Then again, maybe we were looking for some good laughs, the film being about an MIT student counting cards at casinos (based on a true story).

As a group we opened the film with a requisite “LSC…….Sucks!” cheer. Snickering ensued from then on. Some things I remember being funny:

  • The mythical ‘MIT 4.0′ GPA being impressive. MIT grades on a 5.0 scale, with a 5.0 being the A average. A 4.0 from MIT means you’re sittin’ in B-ville. Not like that’s a bad thing. Just sayin. It’s like graduating from MIT ‘with honors.’ That’s impossible.
  • The constant use of the term ‘2.090’ (said: “the Two-Ninety”) for our robot competition. It’s actually 2.009 (said: two double-oh nine). Not sure why they chose to use a different, but similar and confusing name for the class. 
  • Random scene on Memorial Drive in front of Killian Court, where lead was talking to his nerdy friends. There was mad foot traffic in the scene, as if anybody walks down this sidewalk at all during school.

Overall, the film was average. I nodded off a few times, to be honest. I agree with the protests, the film was racist to not include more Asian actors because in real life, the team consisted of more Asian students. Now that I think about it, the lone Asian actor in the film had few lines, and a minimal role of importance on the team.

Hollywood never fails to disappoint.

Facebook Doesn't Care About Its Powerusers

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.

The Backstory
I joined Facebook in the Spring of 2004, which means I am coming up on my 4th year as a dedicated active member. I got in early like most of the Ivy League/Top Tier students because Facebook only catered to this audience at the time. Being an MIT student, I was familiar with the paper Face Book issued to Freshmen every year at our school. Back then, TheFacebook.com literally was an e-version of that, give or take a few more fields of information. I could view everybody’s business, so long as they were on the MIT network. I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t easily connect to my friends at Harvard because there were serious walled gardens in place. Over the years things opened up, and now I barely recognize the Facebook I used to know.

Forcing Powerusers to Power….Use

These days, I find myself wondering who is Facebook catering to whenever they release a new feature. For example, the granular Privacy Options released last week are almost useless to me. This feature is great….if you have only 20 friends on Facebook. Why would I want to sift through my hundreds of Facebook friends and put them all on different lists so I can then control my privacy levels?

I have a couple friends who literally have over 1500 friends on Facebook, and unlike the Scoble’s of the world, they actually know these people. What are my friends going to do with this new feature? Sit around sorting their 1500+ friends into lists? Seriously? If we truly wanted to manage our privacy our options are: categorize hundreds of friends (not good for user, will take forever),  pare down our information and proactivity on the site (not good for Facebook), or delete our accounts (not good for Facebook). 

Years ago, I listed my dorm, room number, address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, on top of other generic meta information on my facebook profile.  Today?  The juiciest information is my work history.  For various reasons, I don’t trust putting all my information on Facebook. I have personally discovered security breaches (I still do, as do others) so I don’t trust the site to hold my info under lock and key. Even if I trusted Facebook’s security, the controversial release of Beacon and NewsFeed has me wondering how much does Facebook actually care about its users? Does Facebook understand their userbase, and the diverse needs and expectations among them?
 
Feeling The Love
I don’t feel the love, Facebook. I feel like you’ve sold my user experience out, just to get a quick high off of a new user account. Newsflash: new booties are having a hard time figuring you out. People don’t ‘get’ why you are useful, the granular privacy levels are only awesome if you understand what should be hidden and why. While extended privacy levels are great, they will not keep new users if users don’t understand the importance and threat to privacy established on your site.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
Facebook is silently rolling out the People You May Know feature. I wondered why they hadn’t announced it on their blog yet, but I think I know why: they’re tweaking the feature. I’ve noticed a significant change in the pool  of people being pulled, as well as the display on my homepage within the last 24 hours, so I’ll wait until it looks as though they’re done before I attack.