Arrived in San Francisco!

We finally made it off Iceland to Narsarsuaq, Greenland and then hopscotched across North America via Goose Bay, Canada; Mont Tremblant, Quebec; Duluth, Minnesota; Rock Springs, Wyoming and finally San Francisco. Four days of flying, with 24 hours in the air. Upon arrival, I immediately jumped on a 12 hour flight to Hong Kong, where I have just arrived. Ready to be earth-bound for a while now.


Grounded in Reykjavik

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Having joined friends for the delivery of a propeller aircraft from Europe to the US, we are currently grounded in Reykjavik, Iceland by the weather at our next landing point: Narsarsuaq, Greenland.

We left Paris yesterday by commercial flight to Billund, Denmark – home of Legoland – to pick up the aircraft. The co-pilot’s HSI, an electronic compass, had burned out mysteriously and needed to be replaced. The replacement also burned out shortly after we left. The pilots (I am the only passenger on this voyage) tell me that they have 5 separate GPS devices between them (including a GPS for jogging), so the compass is not actually vital.

Even if GPS and HSI fail, we apparently have Gmail for navigation – photo below. Should I be reassured?

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The photo of the three of us was taken at our first stop, Wick, which may be the northernmost airport in Britain. Andrew Bruce, in photo below, seems to do everything at the airport – from refueling to flight training to air traffic control.

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According to Andrew, there are 37 flights like ours that stop at Wick each month. There are quite a few single engine aircraft and about three aircraft per year perish. “You can blame the weather, but in reality it is almost always due to bad planning and doing things in a rush.”

Wick serves as the winter loading point for North Sea oil platforms, since it is flat enough for helicopters to land in very bad weather. While we were there an oil platform helicopter was clattering overhead doing various exercises.

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Teach a Qwerty Mac to speak French


Los Angeles, written in French as a joke by the SNCF (Merci à Jean-Francois Paris pour le photo)

As a frequent contributor to Loic Le Meur’s blog – which is consistently ranked among the top blogs in France – I face frustration with adding accents to my postings. (I own a Qwerty keyboard Mac, not the French-style Azerty keyboard that has handy one touch accents).

Here’s the solutions (All suggested by readers of Loic’s blog)

1- Use Bon Patron to add accents and correct your French. A Canadian website that specifically looks for typical anglophone errors in French, I highly recommend it. (Grand merci à Sylvain Pellier)

2- Use Mac accents thanks to this handy table (Grand merci à Cedric)

æ = Option (alt) + ‘
à = Option (alt) + ` + a
â = Option (alt) + i + a
ç = Option (alt) + c
é = Option (alt) + e + e
è = Option (alt) + ` + e
ê = Option (alt) + i + e
ë = Option (alt) + u + e
î = Option (alt) + i + i
ï = Option (alt) + u + i
ô = Option (alt) + i + o
ö = Option (alt) + u + o
ù = Option (alt) + ` + u
û = Option (alt) + i + u
ü = Option (alt) + u + u
« = Option (alt) + \
» = Option (alt) + Shift + \
½ = Option (alt) + ½

3- Install Rainer Brockerhoff’s program that simplifies the adding of accents. Have not tried this because I am extremely wary of jamming up my computer with too many programs. (Grand merci à Thy)

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Reporting Dalian, Open Source-style


I will experiment with a new style of Open Source reporting while attending the World Economic Forum’s Dalian meeting in September. (China’s People’s Daily newspaper refers to the meeting as a “Summer Davos”.)

After more than a decade as a reporter for the International Herald Tribune/New York Times, I resigned last month to start a new career as an Asia-based entrepreneur.

My DNA, however, remains that of a reporter and I plan to report from the conference as intensely as I would for the newspaper.

This time, however, I will fully disclose my intended articles on this blog and post a video of every interview.

Some videos will be interviews of people with compelling ideas or stories whom I encounter at the conference and at the Young Global Leaders meeting beforehand, but I plan to concentrate on specific strands of reporting.

To make this process fully Open Source, I will also blog the progress of my reporting as well as solicit tips and ideas. Please leave comments and suggestions!

For these interested in journalism, this project will show how raw material turns into an article (and – no doubt – how a reporter’s perspective is changed by the very act of reporting).

Since I will follow my own agenda rather than the conference, this system varies slightly from the excellent posts on conference blogging by uber-bloggers Ethan Zuckerman and Bruno Giussani.

Here’s my current ideas for two themes (which may vary with reporting):

INTERNETS OF ASIA: Contrary to popular perception among many in technology, culture matters. Countries with similar high levels of technology – Sweden and South Korea, for example – can use that technology in radically different ways. This holds especially true in Asia, with numerous interesting variations: The text message obsession in the Philippines, the reluctance of Hong Kong residents to “show friends” to strangers – and even their friends – in social networking websites. Need many striking examples!

TECHNO CHINA: What are the biggest Internet trends in China and which ones could be exported from China?

A quick selection from the participant list (Further suggestions welcome):

Those watching the Internet and blogosphere:
Magid Abraham co-Founder and CEO of Comscore
Dave Sifry, founder and CEO of Technorati
Kaiser Kuo of Ogilvy in China

Telecom experts:
Yoon Songyee Vice-President, SK Telecom, Republic of Korea
Tero Ojanpera Executive VP and Chief Technology Officer, Nokia, Finland

Web 2.0 Entrepreneurs
Ailin Anshe Graef Chair of Anshe Chung Studios, China
Tariq Krim CEO and Founder, Netvibes, France

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From TagMyPod to StartAkademy?

Thanks to the large number of comments – and one in particular – about the TagMyPod project that I started on my French blog (description here in English), I am seeing if anyone will join me to take the concept further.

One comment, by Alexandre Le Guyader, pointed out that starting a company is extremely hard for young people and that Phuong Tran of TagMyPod had an enormous advantage through interacting with people via my blogging.

Since the blog where I write in French – belonging to my friend Loic Le Meur – is the number one blog in France, the videos and blog posts I did on Phuong’s project created an immediate buzz. (That said, the success of his company is still very uncertain, which is probably why people have enjoyed following the series of postings.)

I totally agree with Alexandre about how Phuong was very fortunate to receive the attention via my blog. Also, I detest when favoritism and connections can be used to beat out hard work and great ideas.

For that reason I propose launching StartAkademy.

Based on an identical principle to what I am doing with Phuong, young entrepreneurs would pitch their idea via video blog. A jury would then select and mentor the young entrepreneur via video-casts that would share, teach and inspire others who want to start their own companies.

This could perhaps be linked in with Seedcamp or a VC firm or a business school. Any takers?

I’ve done a brief video in English (above) and French (below) about the concept.

Email me or post a comment here!

Merci, Franck!

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I had a very interesting lunch, followed by video session with Franck Perrier, speaking about the directions of Internet development.

Topics included on his video and blog post:

– Why Facebook works
– Privacy dangers of Facebook
– How cultural differences are now emerging across the Internet

In addition to running a popular blog, Franck is founder of Eyeka, a company that aims to connect User Generated videos and photographs with publications.

A faithful MacBook goes under the laser

Having left journalism last week, I am now getting a taste of entrepreneurial experiences by helping Phuong Tran, my brother-in-law, launch his first start-up.

Phuong, a 23-year old commerce school student, is obsessed with lasers and now wants to turn the technology into a self-made summer job.

The faith I have in the project was shown by my willingness to put my faithful MacBook under his laser’s beam.

My contribution is to bring a journalist’s skills – asking questions – to help him shape the company. We will interview on video and post various experts on small businesses giving their ideas on how Phuong should best proceed. With some luck (and hard work) the venture will succeed commercially and journalistically.

We hope people in France – a country not known for start-ups – will enjoy seeing an idea move into execution!

Disclosure: Unlike any other story I have written, I have a monetary interest in the company, having helped Phuong finance this summer project. (He starts commerce school in Reims – the Champagne city – this September)

The website for Tagmypod is up (though fairly basic) and below is our first video (in French). Comments and input are very welcome!