A quick sip of Personal Banking coffee, ends July 2008

By , July 31, 2008 2:42 pm

July 2008 witnesses a boil in personal banking services in Ho Chi Minh City.

1. Many banks have been aggressively expanding their ATM network.

Dong A Bank’s CEO just claimed that their ATM network is second to Vietcombank’s in Vietnam. And this is true. The navy shade of Dong A ATM can found spotted on many corners along main streets.

Following right after Dong A are the light-blue ACB, the red-blue Vietinbank and another red-blue BIDV.

2. ANZ does like no other with their impressive home banking service

ANZ banking consultants provide consulting services at customers’ home on calls and free of charge.

3. HSBC eventually accelerated in their personal banking expansion

Their target is the mid-high income class with salary from $1,000 up. The ATM network also grew steadily.

4. Interest rate for VND rised to nearly 19%

Was it innovation is experience?

In the context of financial difficulties in Vietnam in recent months, many banks especially foreign-invested have made bold moves. Some of them might be perceived as innovative. However, these practices are hard results from the experience of their long histories in more developed markets.

What next?

Welcoming August 2008, the goggles shall continue to be on CPI, the fluctuating stock market and especially gold. Real-estate, for the mean time, might enjoy a short rest.

What personal banking service are you using in Vietnam? How happy are you with your current bank? What services do you wish your bank had provided?

Google To Launch Venture Fund, reported TechCrunch

By , July 31, 2008 2:13 pm

The WSJ is reporting that Google is set to launch a venture fund to give it the option of investing in startups instead of just flat out buying them. The fund will be led by Google’s SVP Corporate Development David Drummond and Bill Maris, a long time business friend of Anne Wojcicki, Sergey Brin’s wife. Maris is a tech entrepreneur with a degree in neuroscience and worked with Wojcicki at a San Francisco-based for-profit company called Catalytic Health.

This hasn’t been confirmed by Google, and it’s clear they’ve been thinking about a fund off and on for years. From the article:

The move would make Google the latest technology giant to take on a more-formal role in seeding start-ups. Intel Corp. has had a large venture-capital arm for years, as have Motorola Inc., Comcast Corp. and many others. In the consumer-Internet area, Walt Disney Co.’s Steamboat Ventures has invested in a number of Web start-ups. So has Amazon.com Inc., which has funded a number of young companies without structuring a formal fund.

Their track records have been mixed. Corporate venture-capital arms have been hampered by challenges that traditional venture-capital businesses don’t face. Venture capitalists invest in private start-ups at an early stage, usually in hopes of a big payout if the company is sold or if its stock goes public.

Many start-ups fear that taking corporate money limits their options and comes with strings that could turn away other potential investors — such as a right to buy the company at a later date. Some funds with less competitive compensation have struggled to retain managers, and corporate venture funds often don’t allow senior employees to invest personal money in their funds, while other venture funds typically do.

This wouldn’t be the first time Google started a fund to invest in other companies. In June 2007 they launched Gadget Ventures, a pilot program that, in part, invests seed money in companies looking to develop for the gadgets platform. They have also previously invested through Indian VCs.

Source: TechCrunch

Tai Tran's Choices (and dilemma) of Media

By , July 30, 2008 4:07 pm
Service vs. Service I choose: Why? But…
Self-hosted WordPress vs. WordPress.com Self-hosted WordPress Branding & Plugins
Facebook vs. MySpace Facebook Facebook is more organized
del.icio.us vs. diigo diigo Web high-lighting My community is on del.icio.us
Twitter vs. Plurk Plurk Timeline GUI My community is on Twitter
Digg vs. reddit vs. Mixx Mixx Less hostile toward content creators
Yahoo! Mail vs. Gmail vs. Hotmail Yahoo! Mail yahoo.com is easier to remember for my connections I really want to use Gmail
Yahoo! Messenger vs. Windows Live Messenger vs. Gtalk Windows Live Messenger Twice the maximum number of friends one account can add compared to that of Y!M yahoo.com is easier to remember for my connections

What is your choice of media channel? Do you have dilemmas of choosing them?

To disable the beep in VMWare

By , July 30, 2008 11:57 am

To disable the annoying beep in VMWare:

1. Open preferences file

C:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\VMware\preferences.ini


mks.noBeep = “TRUE”

2. Open the virtual machine’s .vmx file with Notepad

mks.noBeep = “TRUE”

Good luck

Facebook vs. Orkut in Photo sharing

By , July 28, 2008 1:37 am

I admit that what kept me on Facebook for so long is its ability to host photos. I’m really happy how Photos and Photo upload work in Facebook.

The only thing I don’t like about it is that it auto-resizes photos to 604px width.

I don’t use MySpace, unfortunately.

The third most popular social networking site is Orkut, and I have some friends there.

I’ll just make a comparison on my most frequently used feature: Photo sharing.

Service Quantity Limit Capacity Limit Resize Allowed formats Tagging
Facebook Unlimited albums
60 photos per album
None Width 604px JPG, PNG, GIF Yes,
with better usability
Orkut 10,000 photos
100 photos per album
None Width 800px JPG, PNG, GIF Yes

Google Knol provides another channel / platform, rather than depresses current ones

By , July 25, 2008 11:50 pm

Google Knol screenshot

The latest content-creating product from Google, Knol, is heating the debates on whether it would directly compete with current content ecologies.

Below is my view toward Knol.

Knol vs. Wikipedia?

Knol is often compared to Wikipedia.

In fact, Knol is more centralized on authorship and authority in content creation, so I believe that Knol employs the top-down model which is closer to Citizendium than to Wikipedia.

However, to repeat, Knol is not wiki. It takes advantage of collaborative-editing.

Knol vs. Blogs?

More interestingly, some bloggers express their concern that Knol would interfere with professional blogs, which also aim at sharing knowledge.

My view is that Knol does not compete with Blogs, but rather offer an alternative to content publishing.

Knol is more on scientific/academic articles and how-to style, while blogs are more for expressing opinions.

For example, this post Tag of mine is more suitable for Knol, while this entry is more for my blog.

So Knol is another channel and platform to share your knowledge with the world, with more focus on authorization.

How will you use Google Knol?

The e-Learning 2.0 experience

By , July 23, 2008 3:29 am

The blog craze started in 2004, MySpace came out in 2002. From then till now, Web 2.0 has penetrated deeply into our lives.

You may have heard the buzz: it’s all about communications, exchange information and expressing the ego.

Have you thought of utilizing all those things for learning?

Recently I’ve been very aggressive on the net to see how we can use the applications for learning, and here I am with my key findings:

The requirements

Let’s imagine a very familiar study scenario: you’re assigned into a group to do a research on topic X.

Traditionally, the group would rely on emails, phone calls and IM to communicate and collaborate. Have you found these media difficult to classify your information?

This is how I would use Web 2.0 for learning

1. Search for information with Search EngineS

Obviously, information searching starts with search engines.

I have some hints for this:

  1. Don’t just use Google. Try Yahoo! search, Live search, Ask search and other engines. They give different results and thus, relevant information might be found from ones other than Google
  2. Try Google on different region settings. google.com/ncr (international version) yields different results from google.com.vn
  3. Try different keywords and keyword combination. Also, exploit the operators
  4. Also search for images. At least Google, Yahoo! and Live support this. Images are useful for illustrating your ideas and, in some cases, give you additional information.

2. Ask your questions

Use Q&A service such as LinkedIn Answers to ask questions and receive information from professionals.

3. Make information comes to you with RSS

You go out for information. Think about making information come to you?

Use RSS for this.

[gv data=”http://www.youtube.com/v/AwtmOPdrEL8″][/gv]

For example, if I’m looking for “globalization”, I would do this steps

  1. Go to wordpress.com/tags/globalization
  2. Get the RSS of this tag
  3. Subscribe the RSS into a feed reader like Google Reader

Then check with the feed reader everyday to see if relevant information comes in.

You can also use Yahoo! Pipes to aggregate the feeds. Click here to view videos on Yahoo! Pipes

Try exploring different sources of information you can use this trick.

4. Share links with bookmark-sharing sites

If I encounter useful webpages, I would want to share it with my group mates.

Using email would bury the link under heaps of other information. Sharing through IM stands the risk of losing the message when the program lags.

So I would bookmark the site using del.icio.us and use the function “links for friend” to share the link.

[gv data=”http://www.youtube.com/v/r9s5hc3MJZo”][/gv]

5. Blog your group’s findings on group-blog powered platform

WordPress supports multiple-author. I would want our group members to blog our research everyday on our blog. This is not superficial. It helps us

  1. Collect information, thoughts, findings, analysis and intermediate conclusions
  2. Track each member’s progress
  3. Present to the lecturer our growth

5b. Share micro details

This is optional though. Some information might be very detailed and we want quick sharing methods. I would connect my mobile phone to Twitter and quickly update my thoughts on the way.

[gv data=”http://www.youtube.com/v/ctXq1mKL7tk”][/gv]

6. Schedule activities with Calendars

Schedule activities such as meetings, field trips with Google Calendar

7. Watch and learn

Go to Youtube, not to entertain, but to learn from podcasters on the topic.

For example, this this video
[gv data=”http://www.youtube.com/v/5nN-U0sDZNc”][/gv]

8. Compose Collaboratively

Use Google Docs to compose the documents. This is very convenient in such that

  1. No email chain flying around
  2. Single repository of document
  3. Better version control
  4. Many collaborators do the job concurrently

[gv data=”http://www.youtube.com/v/eRqUE6IHTEA”][/gv]

9. Build wiki to store develop information knowledge

Wiki is great to understand new concepts and link the information to get the big picture.

[gv data=”http://www.youtube.com/v/hczDZXPfYn8″][/gv]

10. Relationship building

Facebook is good to build relationship with your work mates.

11. Publish your research

Publish your research as presentations on slideshare or documents on scribd to share your knowledge engage in discussion on the topic.

12. Consolidate them all into one page

There are just so much!

How’re you gonna navigate around them all?

Well, one solution is to use a homepage service like netvibes to put all these services together.

Why all these?

Too complicated? Well here are the reasons why I would do it this way

  1. Better organization of information. No email confusion
  2. Exhaustive analysis. You write on the way so no information is missed
  3. Better collaboration
  4. Man, isn’t it fun?

I know it would be much easier for you just to email. But how much time have you spent searching for information later on? I’d rather spend the time to get things organized first, then make it easier later to focus more on creating contents.

And I’m pretty sure of one thing: just next year, this entry will be outdated because many new services will come out. Semantic web, mobile apps are just a few to predict.

It’s not a fashionable fad or a time-killer, it’s a shift in the way we can be more effective. Do you want to miss the train trend?

Digital Divide

But you know, all these will never happen if digital divide hasn’t been closed.

Technology proficiency and more importantly, community habit is a big gap. I want my team to do so, but other teams may not, so some of my team members may argue “why do we have to!”

With the internet connection speed in Vietnam, using Google Docs et al is insane.

Today, a world that is flat is till a romantic dream for me.


I’ve already tried out these services. Kindly see mine as example of how things may end up evolve: taitran.com/blog/resources

VCCorp and expert content composition in Vietnam

By , July 22, 2008 3:57 pm

VCCorp is aggressively penetrating the “expert” content composition in Vietnam with their new products: CafeF, bnok, gocnhin and thenao

1. CafeF

A group-blog service on Finance and Stock developed basing on WordPress

2. bnok.vn

A group-blog service that hosts multiple professional and interest groups.

Currently, bnok is limited:

  • Registration done manually
  • Each blog is associated with only one group
  • Maximum 3 blogs are associated with 1 account

bnok supports import from these platforms

  1. Blogger
  2. Blogware
  3. DotClear
  4. RSS
  5. GreyMatter
  6. WordPress
  7. LiveJournal
  8. Movable Type / Typepad

From this list, it is observable that their development team utilize plugins for WordPress. To penetrate the Vietnamese market, they should have started building a tool to import Yahoo! 360 blog now.

3. gocnhin

A techmeme clone

4. thenao

A Vietnamese wiki platform. I believe that with their financial base, VCCorp will introduce incentives for contributors in the competition with Wikipedia Vietnamese.

The name “thế nào” gives me the impression of “how stuffs work”.


VCCorp seems like the only player on this field. Will expert content have any potentials for monetization?

Apart from traditional monetization by advertising on web, selling analysis and contents to consumers is also a good idea.

What do you think about these products?

10 major types of blog

By , July 22, 2008 11:36 am

Major types of blog

Corporate blog

A blog, either used internally to enhance the communication and culture in a corporation or externally for marketing, branding or public relations.

An example: Official Google Blog

Product blog

A blog to update for particular products.

Example: Facebook Blog

Professional blog

A blog written for professional research or thought.

Example: Tai Tran’s Blog

Authority blog

A blog about specific topic(s), written by expert(s) in the area(s).

Example: Copy Blogger is a blog guiding you on effective blogging

Community blog

A centralized blog that facilitates communication between a community. This is increasingly replacing forums.

Personal blog

Blog on personal life of the writer.

Tumble blog

A tumblelog is a variation of a blog that favors short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, dialogues, and video. Unlike blogs, tumblelogs are frequently used to share the author’s creations, discoveries, or experiences while providing little or no commentary.

Example: Tai Tran’s Reading Achiever


Blog with very short texts and links.

Example: Tai Tran’s Twitter

Link blog

Blog that only contains links

Types of blog are platform-independent

Blogs are platform-independent. No one prevents you from using WordPress to micro-blog. However, there are recommendations of the platform suitable for each blogging purpose.

Facebook rolls out new design

By , July 21, 2008 4:37 pm

Facebook launched their new design. You can access with this URL: www.new.facebook.com

2 things I like best about this new design

1. Tabbed Profile

One profile is now broken into different tabs like that of iGoogle.

Wall, the major communication channel of Facebookers, is displayed right in the profile. Other applications are moved away so load time is saved.

Info and Photos deserve their own tabs. This makes it easier for users to track follow the information of their friends.

2. Full-width expansion


Relevance of Content and Time Saving are the 2 keys to success in the social media industry. Facebook is well on-track with their new design.

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