Asian American Commercial Watch: Day in the Life with Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

If you own a high-end Android smartphone, it most likely has a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Recently, Qualcomm announced their latest and greatest, the Snapdragon 845, and highlights some of the benefits in their corporate video (okay, so not really a broadcasted television commercial):

“Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 processor is about to transform flagship mobile devices. New architectures will deliver immersive AR and artificial intelligence. VR meetings and 360-degree video over LTE will revolutionize collaboration, while voice interaction means personal assistance will always be on the ready. UHD premium capture will make colors pop like never before, not to mention beyond-all-day battery life will let you work, share, and explore as long as you want. See what other standout features are coming.”

The corporate video shows an Asian American woman utilizing her Snapdragon powered devices throughout the day, including video chatting with her husband in a VR meeting (which I don’t think is going to be mainstream in the near future …)


Asian American Commercial Watch: Samsung Galaxy Note8’s “I Love You”

I haven’t seen this television commercial yet, but a friend sent me this link after he saw this Samsung Galaxy Note 8 commercial while watching an NFL football game on a Sunday evening on NBC:

“There’s a new way to share how you feel with Live Message on the new Samsung Galaxy Note8.”

After some research, I discovered this commercial debuted during the most recent Emmy Awards.

This is one of the rare commercials that highlights an Asian American male romantic lead in an inter-racial relationship with a white woman. As I’ve often mentioned, I think McDonald’s “Egg McMuffin of Boyfriends” commercial was the first one that caught my I that I blogged about.

Overall, I really like the commercial. It’s very cute in a hopeless romantic kind of way and is effective in showing a feature of the phone that I never knew about. The actress and commercial kind of reminds me of the Zooey Deschanel and the movie (500) Days of Summer, and the commercial’s song is kind of catchy (Peggy Lee’s Similau (See-Me-Lo) 1949). Can’t find any info on the actor …

From the YouTube comments, someone identified the actress as Cyrina Fiallo, and apparently has done quite a few commercials from a quick Google search.

The second most liked comment on YouTube was: “What kind of psychopath uses a $800 device without a case.” which I thought was hilarious – because it’s true!

8Asians Exclusive: Interview with Dr. Ravi Chandra, author of ‘Facebuddha’

Recently, I interviewed my friend Dr. Ravi Chandra, who recently published his book, Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks:

Facebuddha is a rich memoir of relationships, online and off, and an exploration of the psychology of social networks through a Buddhist lens.

In the brief interview, Dr. Chandra discusses his observations, thoughts and experiences regarding the use of social media. I also asked him about his thoughts on President Trump and his use of social media, primarily Twitter.

Specific to Dr. Chandra‘s professional background, he’s a San Francisco-based psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and blogs regularly for Psychology Today (The Pacific Heart).

Dr. Chandra also discusses his book and thoughts in front of the “thumbs up” sign at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California:

“On 10/31/17, the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Castle Church door, psychiatrist Ravi Chandra “nailed” his new book about the psychology of social networks through a Buddhist lens to the door of our social media church at Facebook HQ, to protest what social media is doing to our minds and hearts, and calling for a return to relationship, community and compassion.”

You can learn more about the book also from the book trailer (which I noticed recently, is a thing now …)

If you’re interest in the book,  you cab buy Facebuddha here:

Amazon Kindle ebook and Hardcover
Barnes and Noble Hardcover

Also available at your local independent bookstore.

Wired: It’s Time For ‘Silicon Valley’ to Disrupt Its Toxic Asian Stereotypes

Note: this discusses a little bit of the current season – so possible spoilers if you haven’t been watching.

When I saw this headline on Facebook, I wondered why no one had written about this yet. I’m a fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley, but not a fan of the character Jian-Yang. I find Jian-Yang’s accent a bit extreme and his behavior a bit too bizarre and weird. He kind of makes me feel the same way whenever I see Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles, just a little bit disgusted. I mean, at times, Jian-Yang does make me laugh, especially more recently with his “hot dog, not hot dog” app, and I think Jimmy O. Yang does a great job of handling the writing, but as the Wired article expresses:

“Meanwhile, Pakistani immigrant Dinesh spectacularly screwed up both a CEO position and a relationship—the entire point of his character is that he’ll never be as smart or as savvy as Gilfoyle. (For proof of this, look no further than their tiff on last night’s episode, which Gilfoyle won simply by maintaining that he did.) Chinese immigrant Jian-Yang is written as even less smart—his big pitch this season was a collection of eight octopus recipes—and the developer’s greatest achievement thus far has been cheating Erlich out of a year’s rent by taking advantage of a loophole meant to help the unfortunate. Dinesh and Jian-Yang might be just as brilliant as their counterparts, but Silicon Valley never shows it.

Not every white character on Silicon Valley is a genius, of course. And that’s the point. White characters can be dreamers like Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) or dumdums like Big Head (Josh Brener). But its Asian characters, who represent the quarter of Valley workers who are Asian or Asian American, are shuttled into the same little boxes society has kept for Asians for centuries. For a show that’s constantly questioning what keeps innovation and progress from happening, it should ask the same of itself.”

I’ve been living and working in Silicon Valley since August 1999, and I have never met someone who acted like Jian-Yang. And I’ve also worked for Chinese companies and worked with a lot of Asian and Asian Americans. I must admit, I don’t think I’ve met anyone like Erlich or Gilfoyle, but at least those characters are not, I believe, based on any racial stereotypes.

After writing this post, I did a comment regarding the Wired article from a Facebook friend of mine who said:

“My boyfriend is friends with Jimmy O. Yang and Jimmy O. Yang came up with the Jian Yang character on his own. His character reminds me of my former roommate who was straight up from China. She used to smoke in her room, make stinky Chinese dishes with dried octopus and rarely washed her dishes.. it’s a stereotype that, at least to me, hits close to home and is pretty accurate to my life experience.”

So it’s interesting to hear that Yang came up with the character. Yang came over to the U.S. from Hong Kong when he was 13. Maybe he’s not as familiar or as offended to a Long Duk Dong character (well, Jian-Yang isn’t that bad). Still, not a big fan of the character and hope Jian-Yang evolves as the show progresses.

For the most part, I think Dinesh’s character has been treated fairly, except for the fact that Gilfoyle often antagonizes Dinesh for not having a girlfriend or friends (except that he does in Season 3 for part of the season). However, I was really disappointed to see that Dinesh wasn’t CEO of Pied Piper for more than an episode – I really liked seeing the cocky, arrogant, self-assured – should I say, white-washed Dinesh being portrayed.

I don’t know how many more seasons Silicon Valley can go for (it’s been renewed for it’s fourth season already), but I really do hope that the show can develop Jian-Yang into a more realistic, but also still funny character.

Priscilla Chan, in rare interview, tells how her goals with Mark Zuckerberg are shaped by personal story

In the local Silicon Valley newspaper, The San Jose Mercury News recently did an interview with Priscilla Chan. She’s most well known for being the wife of founder & CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and she rarely gives interviews.

In this particular interview, Chan talks about how her personal story and background has helped shaped the her and Zuckerberg’s donations to schools and hospitals. I was kind of surprised to learn about Chan’s background, and just assumed she grew in a middle-to-upper-class Asian American family – since she went to Harvard, dated-and-married Zuckerberg, and also became a doctor. I was wrong:

“Wealth and power used to be foreign to Chan, the child of immigrant parents who fled Vietnam on refugee boats in the 1970s and never went to college.

While Chan was growing up in Quincy, Massachusetts, her family stressed the importance of school and hard work as the keys to a life better than the one the Chinese-Vietnamese refugees left behind.

Her Cantonese-speaking grandparents raised her and two younger sisters while her parents, Dennis and Yvonne, worked long hours at a Chinese restaurant and other jobs.

And while her parents never attended college, they wanted their daughters to do better, though it was an abstract idea rather than a road map filled with a list of specific colleges and test scores. Once, Chan told her mom she wanted to take the SATs. “What’s that?” her mom asked.”

Priscilla Chan, center, CEO of The Primary School in East Palo Alto, is pictured in consultation with an unidentified staff member. Chan, the wife of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, founded The Primary School as a way to try to combat and alleviate the effects of poverty on children. (Courtesy of Priscilla Chan)

I remember one summer when I was a mechanical engineering summer intern at a local manufacturing company, and was looking for someone or something and a person on the loading dock asked me if I was an intern. I said, yes, and he then asked me where I went to school. I said, ‘Cornell.’ He responded, “Oh, not as good as Harvard or Yale, but it’s up there. You must be rich and smart!”

Rest assured, I was not. As someone who had student loans ($17,000 then – about $25,000 in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation), I definitely did not feel rich! So in some ways, I had fallen to the mis-perception and stereotype of Asian Americans at Ivy League and other elite universities come from fairly well-to-do backgrounds. And Chan’s case reminded me that is certainly not the case.

For a lot of Taiwanese Americans that I’m familiar with of my generation, our parents immigrated to the United States for graduate school, often attending the “Harvard” of Taiwan, National Taiwan University (my father did, though he was the first in his family to attend college) and eventually going to work in professional jobs. So when I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to see Asian Americans in non-professional jobs in big numbers, that is when I realized how much of a myth the Model Minority myth truly was.

Image courtesy of The San Jose Mercury News


ICYMI: SVVR 2016 – Virtual Reality (VR) in China

I work in Silicon Valley and in the “tech” industry and one of the hottest topics this past year, especially with the commercial release of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive in April, is Virtual Reality.


I happened to attend the 3rd  annual Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) Conference & Expo in San Jose, California this past April and attended a few sessions. One of a lot of interest to me was a session on “VR in China,” presented by iResearch.


The main takeaway I got was that VR for China would still predominately be a smartphone phenomena – in the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR sense – plugging in your existing smartphone into a headset. People already have phones, and the high end VR systems are just too expensive for your average American consumer, let alone your average Chinese consumer.

If you’re interested in VR, the other panels I was able to attend were the press conferenceVR for Every Website presented by Google, and Project Beyond Workshop presented by Samsung.


60 Minutes Hacks Congressman Ted Lieu’s Lent iPhone

The other night, CBS News’s 60 Minutes did a segment on cell phone security (or the lack thereof), titled “Hacking Your Phone”:

“We wanted to see whether Nohl’s group could actually do what they claimed — so we sent an off-the-shelf iPhone from 60 Minutes in New York to Representative Ted Lieu, a [Taiwanese American] congressman from California. He has a computer science degree from Stanford [’91] and is a member of the House committee that oversees information technology. He agreed to use our phone to talk to his staff knowing they would be hacked and they were. All we gave Nohl, was the number of the 60 Minutes iPhone that we lent the congressman.”


I’ve blogged about Congressman Lieu in the past and have met him a few times. Lieu has both a computer science and law degree, and thus often interviewed during the whole Apple vs. FBI iPhone encryption legal battle. Congressman Liu has been a strong defendant on privacy and encryption for individual and against any “backdoors.”

A group of professional hackers demonstrate how they can access Lieu’s phone calls, location and even turn on the phone’s camera and view remotely. Pretty frightening…

You can watch the entire 60 Minutes segment below:

Make you kind of think who is listening to you on your phone or watching you via your phone’s camera … pretty scary.

ICYMI: Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 – Recap & Review


Back this March – Friday, March 18th to Sunday, March 20th, I had the good fortune of being able to attend the first ever Silicon Valley Comic Con. I’ve always wanted to go to Comic Con in San Diego, but it seems that year-after-year, tickets for the conference get harder and harder to get. I had only heard about the event a few weeks prior to the show – applied for a press pass online, and shortly afterwards, received confirmation for press credentials.

The idea of Silicon Valley Comic Con was first conceived by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak:

“Silicon Valley Comic Con will be a show unlike any other, as we bring together the best in technology and entertainment all under one gigantic roof,” Wozniak wrote on the convention’s official page. “There are lots of fans like me in San Francisco and the Valley, and I’m excited to finally have a Comic Con with our very own flavor. When I was growing up it was hard to be a geek. It definitely wasn’t cool back then, but I am happy that things have changed because now being a geek, or being different is cool. And Silicon Valley Comic Con celebrates being a geek!””

What got me really excited was the fact that there was going to be a “Back to the Future” (BTTF) panel with Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson. BTTF is one of my all time favorite movies, so I was pretty excited to possibly attend.

I was able to attend all three days, but not all day – Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Overall, I had a great time – though I thought the convention hall was a bit crowded and the event could have been a bit more organized (the organizers were aiming for 30,000 attendees but announced after the conference that there were over 60,000 attendees over the three days), but hiccups were to be expected since this was the first ever Silicon Valley Comic Con. Overall, I had a blast and look forward to attending Silicon Valley Comic Con 2017!

Here’s my brief recap…

Continue reading “ICYMI: Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 – Recap & Review”

Asian American Commercial Watch: Google’s Android: Monotune

During this year’s Grammys, Google debuted a new Android commercial called “Monotune”:

“A piano has 88 keys. Each one is different. But what if they were all the same? To find out, we took apart a piano and reengineered it so that it only plays one note: Middle C. Be together. #NotTheSame”

Ji-Yong Kim is the pianist in the commercial:

AACW_Android_Monotune-Ji-Yong Kim“The commercial features Ji playing two pianos, one of which has been tuned entirely to middle C. It’s sort of a high-concept jab at Apple and tied to Android’s slogan of “Be together, not the same.” But honestly, about the only thing that matters is Ji’s high-speed rendition of the third movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.””

Ji has been playing piano since he was five, and professionally for 15 years.


‘Hello Ed Lee,’ a video by singer-performance artist Candace Roberts

Mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, made history by being the first Asian American to be mayor of San Francisco (through appointment) as well as first Asian American to be elected (and re-elected) mayor of the city. San Francisco, having the largest percentage of Asian Americans of any major city in the continental U.S., these were historic milestones.

8Asians_Hello_Ed_LeeBefore becoming mayor, Lee worked as the City Administrator of San Francisco for many years. Lee came to the Bay Area for law school and afterwards, worked for the Asian Law Caucus where he was an advocate for affordable housing and the rights of immigrants and renters.

But since being appoint mayor, Lee has been moving away from his progressive roots. When being considered for appointment, Lee promised not to run in the special election – but did after he realized he like the job. Since becoming mayor, Lee has seemed to be more on the side of “big business” than for the citizens of San Francisco – and has become especially unpopular by the working class being pushed out by the techies and other highly compensated professionals.

Since the “Twitter tax break” in 2011 and the recent tech boom, Lee has been associated with the gentrification of San Francisco where the cost of living has become unbearable for the working class and even those with high paying professional white collar jobs.

Those not living in San Francisco might not know that the city of San Francisco was giving essentially a $4.8 million subsidy to the NFL for not getting reimbursed for additional security, etc for Super Bowl 50 related events, thus:

“Another day, another Adele cover, amirite? Except this one comes just in time for the fictional-dystopia-in-real-life that is San Francisco during the Super Bowl: backroom deals, taxpayer-funded $4.8 million corporate playgrounds, a police-state atmosphere and dozens of homeless people swept aside for tourists. Go football!

“Hello Ed Lee,” a new video out today by singer-performance artist Candace Roberts, is an open letter to the mayor and an indictment of all of the above — with a touchdown pass of San Francisco’s untenable housing crisis thrown in for good measure.”

If you live in the area, you’ll understand all the references to the Google shuttle buses and gentrification issues. Overall, for a non-commercial Adele cover, I thought the video was well produced, but unfortunately at the time of this writing, only got over 32,000 views on YouTube.


Jeremy Lin’s TAG Heuer Connected Watch

Working in Silicon Valley and as part of my job, I’ve checked out and played around with a few smartwatches. Personally, I can’t say that I’m a big fan of them – having to charge an extra device, and most of the watches are a bit bulky and not very stylish (there’s a reason why I love my Skagen watch – thin and stylish).

However, what is interesting is that traditional premium watch manufacturers are launching their own lines of smartwatches – no doubt for fear of being disrupted, as well as trying to capture the youth market that have abandoned or never having bought or worn a watch. TAg Heuer apparent has announced a line of TAG Heuer Connected watched based on Android Wear “designed in collaboration with athletes” – including Jeremy Lin:


SAR8A80.FT6045-2015-Jeremy-Lin-white-background-1200x1903“Just a few days ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (C.E.S.) in Las Vegas, Tag Heuer showed off its newest Connected watches – designed in collaboration with athletes Tom Brady (quarterback for the New England Patriots football team), Jeremy Lin (professional basketball star) and Giancarlo Stanton (professional baseball star with the Miami Marlins MLB team). The watches represent the first “personalized” dials for the TAG Heuer Connected watch that was just unveiled to the world late in 2015. … The TAG Heuer Connected watch, created with Intel Inside and powered by Android Wear™, is a 46mm watch crafted in the Carrera style in titanium with an option of black or bright-colored rubber straps. Its retail price is $1,500.”

I like the design of the Jeremy Lin watch, but I’m not willing to spend $1,500 on any watch – smart or not. I wonder what kind of volumes these watches will sell?

Also, the thing with smartwatches is that new versions will be coming out every year or so, with new features, etc. In my opinion, a watch needs to be “timeless.” And beyond tell time, the number one feature that needs to be improved for a smart watch is battery life …

The Today Show: Love with Food’s Aihui Ong – After divorce, woman turns love of food into booming business

I met Aihui Ong, Founder & CEO of Love with Food (“Snack Smart. Do Good.”), a subscription box snack business at some Silicon Valley networking event probably back in 2011 when she was first starting her business. I’ve always had a fascination with Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew, so I’m always interested in meeting Singaporeans, and have kept in touch with Ong by bumping into her at various Silicon Valley events or seeing her on Facebook.

The other day, I saw Ong post on Facebook that while in New York City for a food show, she was on The Today Show being interviewed about her experience being an entrepreneur, telling her journey:

Today_Show_Love_with_Food_Aihui_Ong“In the second in a series of segments revealing the secrets of successful women, TODAY contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager spotlights entrepreneur Aihui Ong, who discovered a passion for food as she traveled the world following her divorce, and turned that love into a successful monthly subscription snack service.”

I recently saw Ong a few months ago when she had an office party and got to sample a few snacks. When you get a chance, check out and see if Love with Food is something for you – they offer “Home Box” subscriptions plans starting at $7.99/month and “Office Box” subscriptions starting at $249/month.

Seeing Ong start from nothing, to raising $2 million in funding and growing her business to over $5 million in revenue is great to see, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.