Thursday, December 15, 2011

so, it's no surprise that i'm a fan of Google's forays into advertising. the latest addition for their new flagship phone, the Galaxy Nexus, is no exception.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Nikhil David Sehgal Fleming.

let the uncle nerd-spoiling-his-nephew begin...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a failing minority in the democracy of ideas.

i've been noticing a trend that has always existed, and will likely always continue to exist (that doesn't mean i have to like it):

businesses cater to massive trends, and seem to rarely be incentivized to innovate, and create better products/services for people who would consume them.

to be clear - i'm not saying companies don't innovate, i'm just saying their method of doing so is often slow-moving, and not always rewarded/prioritized.

let me give you 3 not-so-quick examples:

#1. UPS
i buy a LOT of stuff online. comic books, electronics, clothing, and most recently a pretty awesome winter coat. Amazon is my ecommerce venue of choice, so many of these items are shipped UPS, which as you know, often requires a signature. as i no longer work from home, i often do the yellow-paper dance with which we are all undoubtedly familiar. 

there's a yellow slip of paper on your front door saying you missed the delivery. you can either pick it up directly from UPS (which i do in the case of expensive electronics or other awesome toys), or sign a sheet of paper to leave it at your front door. 

first, how ridiculous is it that i order something to ship to me, but i am willing to go pick it up?  in most cases, i sign the sheet of paper, and the package arrives the next day. hooray for a stupid one-day delay! 

i've often wondered WHY, when ordering my goods, i can't just tell UPS in advance that they have my authorization to just leave it at my door. it certainly would save them from having to make the extra trip, and i'd get my package of awesomeness sooner.

so, yesterday i got an email from Amazon (yay) saying my new winter coat had shipped. sweet. i checked the tracking # online, and saw it would be arriving the next day. on the UPS website, i also noticed some callouts for "UPS My Choice." sounds interesting, a service that allows me to receive alerts and tell UPS to just leave the box at my door (no dance needed!)

after a confusing sign-up process (and i'm a digital geek, so you know the user experience sucked) where i gave my entire family history to UPS, i found out i had to PAY a premium to opt into the desired no-dance service of them just leaving the damned box. no way, i already just bought an expensive coat, and have an Amazon prime account. 

instead, this morning i decided to be coy, and left a note for UPS on my door with my name, my signature, and my authorization to leave the package (including the shipper AND tracking #). alas, i arrived home to a yellow slip which i signed as i shed a tear. 

honestly, i'm tempted to call/email UPS and tell them about my consumer frustration. why isn't their service free? why isn't a letter i post (or potentially even a form letter i can print from their website) good enough? i'm ceding their liability of a lost package! and it saves them money from having to make an extra trip! 

honestly, i work at a major corporation, so i have some idea for why nothing is changing. "enough people haven't complained about it," "it's not a big enough opportunity." at the end of the day it would make consumers happy, and frankly, give them a key innovation/point of differentiation. every day they DON'T do something is a day someone else can figure it out (eg, Amazon).

next example.

#2: Google Reader
this one is of a recent heartbreak (as i always have, and only now still kinda do, heart Google). 

do you use Gmail? it's great isn't it? those guys at Google sure are swell. one of the best known secrets about Google has always been Google Reader (you used to be able to click the "Reader" link at the top of your gmail to be able to discover it). VS constantly going to 20 million sites for information, you can have it all ported to you, on-demand, DVR style. that's basically how RSS works

but somehow the geeks at Google found a way to make it EVEN BETTER. just when this whole "social networking" thing was really taking off (back in the stone age, like 2007), they added their own "social features." if you used Google Reader, and say your gChat buddy Lindsay did too, man were you in for a treat. as Lindsay read to her heart's content on Google Reader, she could clicked "share" at the bottom of an article she read on say, "NY/Paris apartment design." this would add to a growing list of selected articles that Lindsay had read (and deemed share-worthy), that all her friends could see. 

so now, every morning i would go read my geeky Tech blog, my nerdy comic book blog (sharing articles i thought were cool along the way so my friends could see them), and THEN, see an ultra-cool list of curated content from my friend Lindsay, who is totally in the know about hip cool stuff i normally could not be bothered with. over time, this became my favorite part of Google Reader. learning about things via curated content from my diverse friends, and sharing my personal geekeries with them (to be clear, we're all geeks about something, this just allowed us to learn more about what our friends were geeks about).

"but Raman," you say, "you can already do that on Facebook/Google+/Twitter!" ahh yes and no, my dear reader (no pun intended). when you share something on Facebook, it goes into an immediate stream of thought (e.g, broadcast TV). when you would share something on Google Reader, it would gointo a nice little organized pile of content, organized by person. so if i'm not feeling like looking up hip urban stuff Lindsay has to share, i don't have to (though let's be honest, i'll eventually want to). instead i can go about reading my comic book blogs, OR even go read the best articles about hacking/MMORPGs from my buddy Josh (sorry, it just wasn't feeling like a Lindsay day). it was "on demand curated content" - enabled/discovered by social relationships. it's like a DVR. and we all love our DVRs, don't we?

so why am i harping on about something i love? if you can't already tell by my above use of the past tense, i'll break your heart now. Google decided to recently KILL the social features of Google Reader. now we are left with a simple RSS reader where your "shares" are not put into a nice little organized pile for your friends to read, but rather pushed out into a never-ending stream of content on, you guessed it, Google+. as you can imagine, there was a vocal minority of folks up in arms as this happened (i was one of them, i even emailed a # of my buddies at the big G). but Google stayed the course as they couldn't be bothered. i get it, i really do, that's what typical businesses do. but i always loved the fact that Google liked to "think different." but alas, as they pursue (one of) their clearly spoken agenda(s) to beat Facebook, they begin to slowly lose what was their edge, their inherent Googliness (eg, don't be evil)

my point is not just to whine about Google (well it is, a little), but to illustrate the broader idea here. it's not usually in the best interest for a company to (maintain) relevant innovation they might see from small groups of people (which is often an indicator of a moving trend), but rather to cater to the masses, and be vanilla like everyone else.

my final example is from an area for which i have an interesting, unique perspective. i'll keep it quick.

if you're an American, i bet you like, or have at least heard of Greek yogurt. it's all the rage. one of the fastest growing food segments in decades (ie, it's not just a trend). the big players in the battle for global yogurt domination, self-admittedly, missed the early window to get in on the action - and a handful of upstart companies beat them to the punch, taking the lunch money of the incumbents along the way. how did the big guys miss this? the amount of people using the product were too small. 

in my time spent amongst the world of delicious dairy snacks, i have easily seen 2-3 key opportunities/markets that are being missed. why are they not being addressed? the opportunity is too small. there aren't enough people buying there. chicken or the egg, i say. for all we know, it could be tomorrow's Greek.

knowing is half the (losing) battle.
i realize that big companies can't go chasing everything. you have to have focus. but perhaps it would behoove them to FOCUS a small (but significant) amount of their energies (resources, cash, etc) on keeping their ears to the ground to identify opportunities for innovation - especially sourced in the minorities - to ultimately "surprise and delight" the majorities. i used to work at a company that did this.

you know who also has consistently done this sort of thing well in recent decades? Apple. i know it's cliche to say (but cliches exist for a reason). you know why? 

because there was one guy in the minority, who had a majority share of voice.

i really wanna be that guy, but...


Sunday, October 16, 2011

(more) photo randomness

as our staff-writer(s) work up the courage to get back to posting regularly, here's a collection of some of the random photography we've scoured from across the web

let's start with something French, weird and old-looking:

followed by something just weird and old-looking: 

this one also has a kid, and is kind of cute...

while THIS one is just cute (but has a giant animal pretending to be something else)

another giant (sea) animal pretending to be something else, albeit with more malicious (delicious?) intent. 

yet another giant sea animal, but ridden by triumphant from Aquaman

and this one is just being plain mean to Aquaman :(

speaking of being mean. some long-haired hippie in a robe is shooting poor Chuckie D.

these two probably get along better than the 2 guys above (but only bc their last names rhyme)

and this is just a cool looking sculpture that can answer most questions...

in closing, some reflection on the value of what i currently do for a living

and perhaps even some thoughts on what i'd rather be doing at work. 

...or AFTER work.

and finally, a really cool old guy i know picking some fruit. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


so it is still likely to be more than a month and a day* before any comprehensive photojournalism will be shared from recent adventures in Alaska, Turkey, or any islands of the Dodecanese or Cycladic variety. but in the interest of making semi-regular posts, i figured i'd share a few photos taken with one of my latest acquisitions - the mobile app Pano

so sit back and enjoy, but be prepared to open in new window, zoom, and scroll after the jump.

rooftop of our inn in Istanbul. Bosphorous on the left, Oldtown Sultanhamat on the right.

rooftop of the Blue Mosque in Sultanhamat (Istanbul)

grabbing a Coke and smile. random Chinese girl on left, Bosphorous (significantly further north on the strait) on the right.

back in Istanbul. the same random Chinese girl on the left (i'm pretty sure she was following me), and some idiot with a "4" shirt on the right (but man that guy looks cool/interesting).

Istanbul sunset, as seen from above. the problem with pano sunsets is the sun moves a little too fast

the island of Rhodes, sitting stranded outside our Ivy-covered Inn after the Turkish bath incident 

Akrotiri red sand beach in Santorini, Greece. the phone was dropped in the beautiful water shortly after this picture was taken.

and just for proof that Pano is great for party pictures as well, here's a picture of my buddy Damon with his evil twin brother Pierre (sans goatee)

that's all i got (for now). now that entire RamanCoke team has gotten through it's recent merger (and all the ceremonial duties required), you'll start to see us posting more regularly.

and if that wasn't enough, here's a picture of my boy Marty (not to be confused with my other boy Nick) telling you how it's going to be:

*don't hold me to that.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

think different.

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Friday, September 09, 2011

gobble gobble, opa!

leaving on a jet-plane in a few short hours. the entire team at RamanCoke (including our newest Jamaicananadese board member) will be taking a brief hiatus from the interwebs, so you (hopefully) won't be hearing much. although, that probably won't make much of a difference for you, our loyal, yet neglected reader...

perhaps more to come when we return. 

güle güle!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


that's right. tomorrow i'm on a boat. not that boat, but this one.

Monday, June 20, 2011

the Bulgarian Banksy.

while i WAS in Europa last week for work (mind-boggling media meetings), i didn't get the chance to make it to Sofia, Bulgaria. really.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Googling TV.

if you haven't figured it out by now, i work in marketing, which is a subtle bit different from advertising. but when i do see interesting - often even good - advertising. i like to share it.

so you probably already also know i'm a big fan of the Google. over the past few years, they've slowly toed  their way into "traditional" TV advertising. the first of which was a few years ago for their Superbowl spot, "Parisian Love":

more recently, they launched some "longform" (TV) advertising around their web browser, Chrome (if you're not already using it, switch already and thank me later).

rather than tout  the benefits of their superior product offering (of which most are not aware, nor do they care), Google simply decided to drive awareness via emotional stories of how we, the user see them. this is one of those ads, and it's great:

as a marketer, i could easily go on about Google's other forays into advertising (the good and the bad), but i won't bore you.

as a consumer, i say this. i'm a fan.

Monday, April 25, 2011

who's on...your mother?

hopefully someone got the homage/reference at work (play?) here.

 ...still don't get it? seriously? kids these days...

Monday, April 18, 2011

europa (macht arbeit...und spaß!)

i (now) work for a French company. so when it's time for corporate training, where else does one go but France? taking advantage of a work flight, i opted to spend the long weekends before and after traversing nearby parts of the continent i'd always wanted to visit - Belgium, Berlin, and Prague. and because i'm lazy, here's but a quick recap with the (embedded) photo albums below (or see them all here). enjoy.

Bruxelles, BE.
i had originally meant to visit years ago, when my former roommate was living there. Brussels was my direct flight in, and frankly, underwelmed me (does that mean something meeting expections is "welming"?). i got over my jetlag, saw the "Grand Place," the peeing baby statue, randomly ran into an old Swedish buddy, and caught the first train out.

Bruges, BE.
i left a little piece of my heart here. honestly, a charming town, especially on Sunday afternoon, as all the British tourists are vacating from their weekend holiday. cobbled, winding streets, canals, and church abbeys. but such romance is only made more lonely when travelling solo (fortunately i did not turn to despair in the clock tower like the town's infamous film). fortunately, in the closing hours of my final evening, some fellow travelers invited me to join them for post-dinner drinks. which turned into 2-3 too many. and it was there i developed an appreciation for the fine Belgian ale that is Kwak.

Antwerpen, BE.
what a fantastic town. and to think, i almost skipped it to instead pop into Luxembourg (and cross another country off my list). the train station puts Grand Central to shame, and the main cathedral acts as a beacon from all points of the city. tons of character, a great art scene, some oldschool UNESCO printmaking, and some great street food (Frittes!)

Evian, FR.
and then i had to goto work. but a beautiful lakefront resort with a ton of my interesting counterparts from around the world wasn't bad. then i had a nice meal on a French farm home with a former colleague from the soap company. LOTS of wine and cheese. stereotypical, i know, but i'm not complaining.

Berlin, DE.
just a weekend trip, but a great modern city to wander. and yea, there's that big wall thing (and Darth Vader at the Brandenburg Tor). so, as a bit of cold-war junkie (and a student of the German language), i had more to occupy me than just my photography. the Mauer Park flea market was pretty awesome, and i had my fill of Doner. but i did get a lot of strange looks from the locals when they saw i spoke the local language.

Praha, CZ.
last leg of the trip. per my usual pattern - knock the famed castle/old-town out in the first day, and spend the rest of the trip getting lost (and finding your way back out). creepy/sexy statues everywhere. gothic architecture everywhere (pictures don't do justice to the spooky illumination of the orange street lamps in the fog of night). oh yea, and a symphony in a museum. Lentilky anyone?

so das ist alles. very doubtful that i'll have as much free time the next time the company sends me back across the pond, but i'll give myself an "A" for effort.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

US roadtrip (Dec'10)

only 4+ months after the fact, but ALL the photos from my great-American-i-just-quit-my-job-and-need-to-go-somewhere roadtrip have been posted here

originally, i was going to travel to Russia, Estonia, Latvia, etc (what some cold-warriors and birthers would say the antithesis of America), but i then found out that was somewhere my fiance eventually wanted to go there (and could not yet get the weeks off). so, i simply made the most of my pre-existing holiday travel (thanksgiving in LA, christmas in Cincinnati), and decided to see as many of the great American states in-between that i had not yet visited - AZ, NM, CO, NE, IA (yes, NE + IA), MO, KS, OK, and AR.

for some of the journey i had some road-companions join (my fiance for a long weekend, my new brother-in-law for a week). i also had numerous recommendation and introductions - meeting friends and friends-of-friends along the way, all of whom were more than gracious to extend their hospitality, and show me their slice of the country. i got to jam out with an all (older) ladies bluegrass band in Albuquerque, NM, eating junk food with a small-town lawyer in Alamosa, CO (and her turtles), and was shown the Christmas lights (and finer sights) of Tulsa, OK. i shared Dr. Peppers + travel stories with a cute 100% Navajo girl, and broke bread (literally from the Zuni tribe). on a blizzard-y day, i stared across the malt-shop counter at a little kid in Hamburg, IA. i even went to TX, despite my animosity for that state, because my awesome friend Megan decided to move back there with her husband, and she's pretty kool.

there were 8 national parks (giant sand dunes!), 3 presidential libraries, numerous museums, 2 bass pro shops, a giant meteor crater, an underground salt mine, a blizzard, and breakfast tacos, ohhhh the breakfast tacos. sadly, the giant ball of yarn eluded me. i don't think i calculated the exact mileage, but there were 3 rental cars, 1 car accident (not my fault!), and a speeding ticket (totally my fault!). i'm pretty sure i never have to drive my brother-in-law anywhere ever again (more because he's afraid of my driving).

sorry, no photo highlights (or even embedded slideshows). for that you're going to have to go through the countless useless photos i took along the way to entertain myself. but i'll leave you with this gem:

final state count? 43, which means i've got 9 to 19 years to cover the remaining 7. but i know i'll be knocking at least one off the list this summer =)

Monday, March 14, 2011

little workers.

if you've ever been in the 14th Street/8th Ave NY Subway station (west side, A, C, E, or L trains), you might have seen a bunch of little metal workers scurrying about. seeing them always gives me pause and a smile. recently, my pal Richard photographed what seems like almost all of the little guys, so i figured i'd share.


so, as it turns out, the name of this permanent installment is "Life Underground," by sculptor Tom Otterness, and was put up (down) in 2001. hooray for the intersection of public transportation with the arts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


a (french) colleague shared this ad with me, and since i have nothing of value to post as of late, i figured i'd make a post of what i thought was a relatively inspiring piece of advertising.

that's right kids. ask your parents to buy you a chocolatey hazelnut spread, and you might just grow up to be in a commercial.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Calvin & Scott.

recently at a party, a guy that happened to work at the U.N. out-nerded me by sharing the following good stuff:
(click to enlarge)

despite the weird nerd overtures, this really took me back. as a young lad, i was always a fan of Calvin & Hobbes. while it wasn't my first exposure to the medium of comics, it was the bar by which all else would be measured. in fact, once Bill Waterson bowed out, i quit reading the (newspaper) comics altogether. everything else in those few daily pages i found far too trite and sophomoric. i soonafter actually quit reading all comic books for ~2 years. to this day, Calvin & Hobbes is (one of) the gold standards by which i hold the medium. fun, imaginative, and thought-provoking. 

of course, within a couple of years, i came back to comics, but not for the same reasons of fantastic action-and-art oriented spectacle. instead of following heroes and artists, i was drawn back in for characters and writers, something i still do to this day (neat art is appreciated, and super-heroics, while a nice perk, are not necessary). i don't think this would have been the case were it not for the initial seeds planted by Calvin & Hobbes.

tangentially, probably one of the great appeals of Scott Pilgrim (IMHO one of the few true successors), was that (for me) it was in much the same vein of Calvin & Hobbes. this most likely given SP's inane, imaginative, but serious emotional bent (oh Ramona, you're so much more than Susie ever could have been). or perhaps even more literally, i imagine Scott as a portrayal of who Calvin might have grown up to be (though i'm sure that's not what SP creator Brian Lee O'Malley had intended). 

naturally, over the years, quite a few artistic homages have been made (not counting Calvin praying and/or pissing on the rear window decal of a pick-up truck), but only a few really capture the true spirit of imagination and fun - like those above and to the left. i think this might have been the only t-shirt i bought in 2010 (a throwback to the already classic sled-based original somewhere in a long-lost t-shirt pile). it was never really a choice, as soon as it was published, it was as good as bought. i'm such a sucker.

but i digress. i really miss you Calvin (& Hobbes). i'm really grateful for everything you gave me. maybe someday soon i'll pick up and re-read through all those volumes i spent all my allowance money on, and have carried with me to every bedroom bookshelf of mine. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


i wasn't going to post anything about recent events in AZ, but then i saw Jon Stewart's recent remarks, which i found pretty well thought through, so worth re-posting here. give it a go and let me know your thoughts.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Arizona Shootings Reaction

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