Category: Technology

Using Google Street View to explore your hometown like we did when we were kids

I grew up on the far west side of Oahu in a town called Makakilo, a place even some of my high school friends didn’t know about. And while I spent some time in San Francisco, most of my childhood was isolated here, from preschool in the former Barber’s Point Naval Air Station to attending high school downtown.

Remember the days without computers? Remember when your evenings weren’t spent refreshing Facebook or Twitter (or even Myspace)? As kids, we would spend our ample free time exploring our hometown, discovering new swing sets hidden in residential complexes or finding grand panoramas of Honolulu from our mountaintop perspective.

With Google Street View (somehow now available for my hometown), I’m able to explore Makakilo like I did when I was a kid. Perhaps, even more so. There are areas I had never bothered visiting. And through technology, I’m able to explore my hometown even further, all while refreshing my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Here are some Google Street View shots of Makakilo and Kapolei:


Mauka Lani Elementary School, a public school I attended for several years. Continue reading “Using Google Street View to explore your hometown like we did when we were kids”

Becoming a Travel Writer with the Gogobot Travel Salon

On April 10, Gogobot will be hosting their first-ever Travel Salon in San Francisco! If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to become a travel writer, while receiving tips from established authors and networking with other travelers, this is the event for you. It’ll be held at Monarch, a beautiful new lounge in SoMa.

Note: I’m currently working with this awesome company, so I may be slightly biased in determining the event’s expected awesomeness. Additionally, I will be there myself, so I can assure you the event will be awesome.

Here’s the info: Continue reading “Becoming a Travel Writer with the Gogobot Travel Salon”

Trevi Fountain in Rome / Fontana di Trevi a Roma

How the Legend of the Trevi Fountain Came True for Me

Standing in front of the magnificent fountain, surprisingly free of massive crowds that day, I chose a coin of lesser value (I’m Chinese) and tossed it over my right shoulder into the water. Apparently I had done it with the wrong hand, as a nearby traveler began to instruct me on the proper method in which one conjures the magic of the monument. Perhaps by luck, I found a stray coin on the floor, and I tossed it into the water in a manner suitable with the legend’s requirements.

Continue reading “How the Legend of the Trevi Fountain Came True for Me”

PERFORMER MAGAZINE – Exploring the Future of Music Tech with Jolie O’Dell

Jolie O'Dell - Photo by Ken Yeung

Jolie O’Dell | Download this issue of Performer Magazine

Technology reporter Jolie O’Dell established herself as an industry expert with her work in publications like Mashable and ReadWriteWeb. She currently writes for VentureBeat and serves as a panel moderator for the SF MusicTech Summit, an annual conference bringing together technologists and music enthusiasts in San Francisco. In this interview, she shares her thoughts on how independent musicians can best leverage technology.

What are some of your favorite apps/services for musicians?

I like tools like Moontoast Impulse, which helps you embed and sell your album on Facebook. I like tools like StageIt, which allows musicians to create webcam concerts so they can promote them to fans and make a little money on the side. Then there are monitoring tools that are really great like Next BigSound. It’s an amazing and really simple interface for bands to understand what effect they have on the Internet. I don’t know if you’ve checked out the other social media analytics tools, but they’re so big and complicated. Next Big Sound is the closest you’re going to get to a simple, color-coded, push-this-button-find-out-where-you’re-most-popular thing for bands to use.

How can bands create brand awareness online?
Continue reading “PERFORMER MAGAZINE – Exploring the Future of Music Tech with Jolie O’Dell”

PERFORMER MAGAZINE – Interview with Earbits CEO Joey Flores

Earbits | Link to article in Performer Magazine

Earbits.com, a new online radio site, formed a collaboration with the San Francisco Chronicle this Wednesday to provide a curated, location-specific music discovery destination. CEO Joey Flores described in an interview how the idea for Earbits came about and how the site can benefit independent musicians.

What is Earbits?

Earbits is an online radio platform designed to be more of a marketing tool for the music industry. Instead of ads, we’re working to turn airtime for artists into sales of their new releases and merchandise. As an example: Later this week we’re launching a partnership with Relapse Records, promoting a new album by one of their artists. Users will be entered into a sweepstakes by joining the band’s mailing list, which will probably include tickets to shows and a meet-and-greet with the band. Anyone who hears one of their songs will be presented with the sweepstakes opportunity. This is a campaign that we would run as opposed to an advertising campaign for a regular sponsor. Right now, we’re working with about 170 labels, we have 2000 bands on board, we have over half a dozen Grammy winners, and we have festival headliners and platinum artists. We’re trying to create a marketing platform that really helps artists and labels get music out there to listeners and consumers with the eye on the music industry as our core clientele.

How did the idea for Earbits come about?

My background is in performance-based marketing and localized ad network marketing — paid search, media buying and things like that. When it was time to market our album and our shows, we spent about $20,000 trying all kinds of things from Sonicbids to all of these other services. We were taking out ads on television and were doing everything we could to try and promote our album and our shows. It was really ineffective. So my buddy says, “Well, how can we translate what you do during the day — ad networks, performance-based marketing — to the music industry. The problem is that people have to hear it. The reason why performance marketing doesn’t work on the Internet — why Facebook ads don’t really work — is because a visual ad can’t convey the quality of music unless you already know that band. You’re not going to click on it, and half of the time you do, you find the bands are not that great. Our concept is to create a curated place where consumers will actually want to go to discover music and find out who’s playing near them.
Continue reading “PERFORMER MAGAZINE – Interview with Earbits CEO Joey Flores”

PERFORMER MAGAZINE – The 8th SF MusicTech Summit


SF MusicTech Summit | Performer Magazine — July 2011

The Brightest Minds in Music Technology Converge

The 8th SF MusicTech Summit, held on May 9, brought together musicians, computer developers and business professionals under one roof for a day of panels dedicated to brightening the future of the music industry.

“You can’t pirate intimacy,” opened Evan Lowenstein of StageIt, concisely summarizing the morning’s panel featuring guests Brandon Boyd and Mike Einziger of Incubus. The panelists focused on fan engagement and stressed that great concert experiences can’t be pirated. Boyd and Einziger offered their viewpoints as established artists, including Boyd’s professed shyness to self-promotion. Einziger commented on the shift with emerging technologies: “When we were young, we mailed out mailing lists and drove around to schools, but nowadays that’s a waste of money.”

The “Live Music Marketing” panel brought together founders from a number of top events promotions websites. Live Nation’s Aaron Siuda opened: “I’ve shifted 30% of my budget to online ads. You don’t need to do the shotgun approach.” Artists are now able to cost-effectively target demographics using metrics offered by platforms like Facebook. Julia Hartz, co-founder of Eventbrite, added, “Ticket buyers are ten times more likely to buy a ticket if they see a friend sharing it.” Songkick’s Ian Hogarth offered a reminder of the importance of simpler communications: “Text, phone and email still rank high on shares next to Facebook.”

In the afternoon, Mashable’s Jolie O’Dell quickly bypassed the obvious platforms of Facebook and Twitter in “Tools for Your Band.” The panel suggested services for artists like Topspin, SoundCloud, and Songtrust and SoundExchange for royalties. Perhaps the most celebrated tool of the Summit was RootMusic’s BandPages, a Facebook Page customization service. While such tech-centric recommendations were common throughout the day, the majority of the panelists still emphasized the fundamental importance of creating great content and engaging authentically with fans.

And to that, some things never change.

– Keane Li, photo by Kara Murphy

How my night went from Swagapalooza to the Kink.com Armory…

Through a referral from my friend Suki, I received a personal invitation to Swagapalooza from founder Alex Krupp. The event is described best by my lazily copying from their site:

Swagapalooza is an experiment in viral media. On April 12th, the world’s most-followed bloggers, tweeters, and digital influencers will gather in San Francisco to judge five-minute auditions from the creators of the latest, greatest, and most unexpected new products… And to connect with each other.

You deserve to be begged for your attention and your following. Your taste and discernment make you the perfect judge of these marketers who will come to cajole, beg and bribe you…

(with more free stuff than you can imagine.)

From this, we ended the night at The SF Armory, an old military fortress now housing alternative sex production company Kink.com (link goes to Wikipedia, don’t worry). Alex, apparently a fan of guided tours, arranged this free tour for all his Swagapalooza attendees.

So now I fill in the spaces in between, interspersing photos from Kink.com with descriptions of my favorite products from Swagapalooza. Because, let’s face it, photos of nerds are boring (sorry kids, this includes me) and you wouldn’t want me ruining the Kink tour for you with details.


From the moment we entered, we were handed complimentary loaves of bread from Sour Flour, an organization run by local baker Danny Gabriner. In an attempt to build a “community through bread,” he offers a number of baking courses and bread orders. From the taste of the loaf (did you cringe inside reading that too?), I highly recommend the classes if baking is in your line of interests.

Then, people started talking on stage, starting with Alex and Justin Kan of Justin.tv. I knew better than to sit down as my attention span can only withstand ten minutes of “preso” at a time… after which I start seeking more interesting subjects like the color of walls. That is not to say the presentations weren’t great. They were. I’d just highly recommend that future Swagapaloozas include a time limit for speakers.

The walls are black, by the way.

Several presentations really caught my attention. The first was by Will Hauser, co-founder of nutrition bar producer Two Degrees Food. For every bar you purchase, the company gives a malnourished child in a third-world country a nutrition packet. Not bad.

The second presentation I enjoyed was for the film Transcendent Man. A documentary on the “life and ideals” of author and futurist Ray Kurzweil, it touches upon a number of themes relevant to my existentialist need to define myself. Their PR rep offered me an invitation to their San Francisco premier this Thursday at the Palace of Fine Arts but unfortunately I can’t make it. (Update 4/15/11: Turns out there was a copy of the film in my swag bag. I promptly watched it and covered it here.)

An action-packed battle against Skynet is an appropriate segue for the final hot presenter: Stunner of the Month. I was more impressed by the presenter — fully in character as some strange amalgamation of Bill, Ted and an excellent adventure in Jersey — as he described the “stunna life” and “stun levels” (paraphrasing) while placing stunner after stunner on his head. Funny, and a nice break from the other presentations. The service itself is simple: you get a random stunner shade at the end of each month with an accompanied stunner story. For example, the swag shades I received included the following written on a notecard:

THE FUHGEDDABOWDITS: Cruisin to Dean & DeLucca’s (sic) in your Lincoln lookin for something wrong. You holler at the broad on the corner… fuhgeddabowdit.

Wow, that’s so ME. How did they know? According to their site, my match is based on an old KGB algorithm stolen from the Soviets.

No wonder they lost the Cold War.

Finally, my favorite piece of swag was also the most expensive and useful: a dress shirt from Sabøteur, a men’s clothing company that designs functional (some even waterproof) clothing. Not bulletproof like the Caballero suits from Columbia, but I suppose it would be pessimistic of me to expect gunfire in my everyday life…

Great event. Fun after-party. I had a great time. Thanks, Alex and team!