Sunday, 14 July 2013

Keukenhof 2013

As summer is upon us, I thought it would be a great idea to see the famous Dutch tulips in Keukenhof

I have to say that I was very impressed and this is for sure a place you should go at least once in your life time. It is a great place to take your family for a day trip around May if the sun is out. This is the true Netherlands.

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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Google+ versus Facebook

Hello everyone, just like many of you I am a social networking guy by hobby not profession. I enjoy understanding and sharing knowledge with others. As a result I thought I would give you my analysis of social networking and why how I change from social networking site to other social networking sites starting from Hi5 moving to Bebo, Facebook, Hyves, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer and Google+. This post maybe long but I hope you too see your self in this analysis. At the end you will find my top 7 reasons that Google+ beats Facebook and why I moved to Google+.


I remember in 2000 I was living in Portugal and the new craze was hi5, yes hi5. A social network page which mainly was used in south of Europe. Its philosophy, people could customize, add pictures and add friends. This was a huge hit. I started to use it as several of my friends were on it, and it became the first craze.

Where did hi5 go wrong?

Well, it was well programmed, lots of people were using it, easy to log on, but for some reason, Facebook was gaining territory. I personally stopped using hi5 as every time I travelled and met someone, outside of south of europe, no one knew hi5.

I then realized that the same way there was hi5, each country had developed its own social networking page: hi5, bebo, hyves, etc… They are all very similar in features but had no or very little value for those crossing borders. As students, cross borders it became clear that facebooks added value was the international community.


I stayed with hi5 until about 2005, and then I moved to the Scotland, where hi5 did not exist…everyone around me was on bebo. So I decided to try it out. The challenge was, I could not get all of my 200 or so Portuguese friends on to bebo from hi5. Never the less the over whelming feeling of being left out, I gave bebo a try. At this stage some of my friends were already moving to facebook, specially those who studied abroad.


In 2007, I decided, to also try Facebook, as I was travelling more and more and I wanted to keep track of my international friends. The cool factor was way great to say I met this Japanese dude in Belgium or in the Brazilian in France, and I was keeping tabs on them as well I could prove this to my other friends. So I eventually abandoned hi5 and bebo and adopted facebook. The single reason was to keep tabs on my international friends. Facebook was the first to cross borders from the us to europe, and to asia.


In 2009 I actually moved from the Uk to Netherlands, where yet again I was confronted with another social networking page: hyves. This was mainly aimed at the dutch community, however it did not last for me. As an expact I began to connect to other expats and the common tool of making friends/integrating/being invited to parties was Facebook.

Facebook was the answer

So then I began to realize the power of facebook. It no longer was a tool for just keeping tabs on old friends, but a way of being invited to parties and events for expats here in Eindhoven. this was the greatest value of all, I could store my party pictures, make new friends, see how and who was living around me. At this stage I was hooked on facebook, going over 600 friends. Each journey I made, more friends, more facebook friends. When I got back, I would share my adventures via facebook and go to parties/events organzed by others. Every day, I could choose to go to some party somewhere.

In 2009 facebook had already taken over most of the world, but for me the greatest value was: Facebook events.

It is true around this time frame Twitter was emerging, but one could not organize events and see who was attending, it was true that doodle a even more powerful tool for organizing events locations as one does not need a doodle account where Facebook forced that upon us. Never the less it was being able to capture pictures of these events which lead to facebooks increased success. People are curious and love seeing other peoples pictures. In about 2009, facebook introduces tagging, so whenever someone took a picture of you he could tag you and others could see that picture. This became the thing at least for me, going to parties, and seeing what parties were fun. Making new friends as I went along.


I did start to use Twitter, but I became an occasional user, as my passion was not following via text, but more following pictures, and being invited to events by friends, even though interesting things/conversations actually Twitter was easier to find people with common interests.

You see at this stage, Twitter, made an interesting breakthrough, by focusing not only letting people who know each other follow/read each others statues/comments, but why not let anyone in the world see what anyone else is doing. This made it success as people with interests in say photography or DSPs could connect much easier than via facebook. I had friends to started to follow “porn stars” feeling connected to these people made them special. Relations were being built but not at a personal level, I could not see pictures of my friends via twitter. So I focused on Facebook. But Twitter was and for sure is still widely used today, far more than any hi5, bebo or hyves website.


As time went by more and more people around the world jumped on facebook, and we begun to find old friends from the past. At this stage many people used Facebook to find old classmates, which was the coolest thing. As one could see your friends, friends, and then add them as your own.

Facebook was growing, very quickly, and hit a problem, it became very personal, and not really professional, so LinkedIn imerged with the concept why not have a facebook for professionals… and it turned out that people really like to keep the two separate. Most people have 2 faces, what they do in their personal life, parties, pictures and then their professional life. Where you attended professional conferences, follow companies, look for jobs. This market was huge and I too jumped on LinkedIn. My friends were getting jobs offers via LinkedIn, so I boosted my numbers and hit over 800 connections. This was/is my way of staying connected to professionals outside my personal life.


A relatively new one appeared for me inside the MathWorks. The idea of social networking in larger companies begun to make sense, however most companies do not have the time to create their own facebook, so Yammer, focused on facebook only for a particular company. So If i am on Yammer, I can only see and read what other people in the MathWorks are doing. It became a news group on steroids. I am a fan, as it does help me make new connections in my company but it is still far from being perfect.

Facebook Dominance

As time went on, I was more and more a fan of Facebook, I mean they were bringing social networking to a new level, one could play games with friends…. yup I was too a mafia wars geek, chatting became a reality in facebook, eventualy video call was also possible. Facebook made money with small adverts just like Google, Facebook grew and they were listening to what people wanted. News groups came, splitting your friends into lists, then finally the latest and greatest… TimeLine. Make your facebook page your bio… what a great idea. This became a very strong point for facebook. In 2011, I was convinced that Facebook would keep growing and nothing would beat it…I mean I have over 600 friends (there was no way I could move these people away), so Facebook had a monopoly. All the pictures from parties… were there… I could track my timeline back to Scotland… Why would I want to move? Facebook had a monopoly. I was using LinkedIn for Professional and Facebook for personal networking. I was a happy bunny, just like most other people around the world.


So then on June 28 of 2011, google announces Google+. The question then is why should one move away from Facebook to use Google’s version of the same? The answer is simple, Google will and could only beat Facebook, if and only if their features were better and far better than anyone elses, other wise why change yet again?. This week I have officially switched and adopted Google+, here is why.

I did not realize that there were a few things that I really did not like about Facebook, until I saw how cool Google did it.

1. Google Circles, you see when you get over 600 friends, they arent all friends, they are different groups, and one needs to organize them. It is a mamoth task to organize your friends in lists in Facebook, and Google from the start made it easy to create Circles, groups, where you could “drag” and drop your friends into the right circles. This way you can filter who to follow. Today when I log on to facebook I cannot keep track of all 600 friends. You can filter, if and only if you create these lists… It is easier to start from scratch.

2. Google Photos – even though I used Facebook for pictures from parties, I never uploaded my holiday pictures, I was a picassa fan. I always backed up my personal holiday photos on google. Google+ allowed me to integrate my albums out of the box. Picassa and Google+ Photos were the same, but now I could share the pictures with circles…. WOW. Great. Not only that but I had an Android phone, where I could log on and carry my pictures with me where ever I go. Then what happened was that Google+ allows me to upload any picture that I take from my phone to my account, and put it in of my albuns!!! GREAT. Not only this but I can now choose to follow my friends pictures and not text!! Google nailed this, as a result people with Pictures switched very quickly, as the picture management was far superior to Facebook. On top of that Google+ used their existing Taging, but automaticaly. Picassa had already had this concept that if you tagged someone, they would remember, so any future pictures of that same person would likely appear tagged automatically. WOW… Automatic tagging what a breakthrough.

3. Google+ Hangouts – So of course people who used Gmail, knew about the chat, they loved it as no company could ban this without blocking their own email. The chat was well developmed with video feeds, but when google+ came out they had to beat everyone hands down to get adoption…Hangouts. One could have more than 2 video feeds connected at once. Skype one needed to pay for this, now Google… one could have a 3 or 4 way video conference for FREE!!!!!!

4. Google+ Events- well one of Facebooks advantages was events, well google looked at this and made it better… why not integrate this with Google Calendars (as android becomes more popular this is a more attractive feature). I no longer need to log on to facebook, click events to see what is happening. Google+ one creates an event, it appears automatically on Google calendars of the people who are in your circles, it is integrated with Google maps (nice for setting locations), one can add pictures from the events and of course setup a live video feed!! Wow, beat that Facebook?! Of course the invitations are sent via email to those who do not use Google+.

5. Google+ Locations – as google maps grow, as companies want to be part of google maps, google created a framework for others to write and rank reviews. This is what Locations is all about, given your location you can see restaurants/shops near you and rank/write/rate them and make it available for others. As times goes buy, all review sites need to be careful. Not only can I see posts by my friends, by circles, but by location and see what is around me…Have you ever had that conversation… where should we go now with your friends?!

6. Google+ Explore – Whats hot? – We all know that Google is great at logging things, well they took the best from Twitter, and brought into Google+. Google logs on a daily basis, the posts which get the most +1, or likes equivalent from facebook and anyone can see this. The result is you can see the best daily post in the world, self voted, a bit like Stumbleupon, but without the subject. This is great as everyday I can see some cool picture, joke or something that the rest of the world likes. This is particularly useful for pictures, people taking the best pictures around the world, and sharing them.

7. Google Ripples – the last key thing for me which really got me on Google+ was the fact that I could share a link of someone elses post. So say a friends writes something, I can like it or +1 it, but I too want to share it with my other circles. This is possible and Google tracks this. As time goes on Google allows every single person to track that one post and see who shared it. This is Google ripples, you can see in time, who shared your post, and who from those shared it to. The outcome, you can find graphically who the most influential people are in Google+. Targeted Marketing on Steroids!!! Wow. This is great for companies… so guess what people now can create Google Pages, usually for companies to advertise for free and see who their key sponsors are. So if companies are on Google+ I too put my professional status there and create a circle for my professional friends…. Wow LinkedIn be careful.


Thank you for reading this post.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Weekend in New York

Life is great, all you need to do is make the most of it. I have always wanted to live the life as an extrovert so I took the opportunity to go to New York for 1 weekend. New York initially changed me about 7 years ago, as it was the first time I had ever travelled alone and it changed me. 7 years later I returned and it was an amazing feeling, as an overwhealming sense of accomplishment crossed my veins as I was not alone any more, Giovanna was next to me with her huge smile.

We did all the touristic attractions, Times Square, Metropolitan Museum, Stand up comedy, watched the Jersey Boys on Broadway, walked through China Town and little Italy and Soho on our way to Ground zero or where the WTC, World Trade Centers are.

One could spend hours, days visiting Manhatten, descovering everything that it has to offer. However, if you take the time to talk to the locals when eating a Bagel or something you realize that the life in the big apple is only really worth if if you have the money. A 2 bedroom flat in NY is about 5k dollars a month, which means most people live in Queens or Brooklyn and commute every day. Life in the Big Apple is like a continous deja-vu as you have seen all the streets in the movies, TV series and yet you have never physically been there. Wow, what a strange feeling.

If you have never been to New York, I would say you haven't lived yet. This 8 million people city which never sleeps, inspires, creates dreams and makes them come true if you have the right attitude.


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Tips and Tricks for Malaysia

After traveling for 3 weeks around the west coast of Malaysia I thought I would put together a few tips and tricks for anyone planning a similar trip.

Main Places to visit:

- Langkawi, a island to the north, very close to Thailand. Great beaches, activities and fantastic to chill out. Langkawi has limited night life, not many night clubs. Rent a Scooter then and discover the island, the Cable Car is a must.

- George Town (Penang), World Heritage Site, wonderful culture, history, and blend of nationalities as well as a wide variety of outdoor activities. The night life is great, lots of places to young people to party and chill out. It also is great hub for visiting the Cameroon Highlands. *for the Cameroon Highlands you will need to sleep one night there.

- Kuala Lumpur (a.k.a KL), the capital and great place for shopping and site seeing. If you don’t have much time, the hop on hop off bus is easy, and costs about 10euros per person for a 24h ticket.

- Malacca I would not spend more than 3 days there but really worth the visit. Great food, and interesting relics of the past.



Buses are the cheapest and most efficient way of getting around. There are always loads of different companies selling tickets to where ever you want to go. You can buy online, just be careful to make sure that you go to the right bus depot. *in KL there are several bus depots/stations.

We never paid more than 23 Ringgit per person.

If you would like to save a few hours, AirAsia is a great company and a good low cost option. They are FAR better than Ryanair.

Trains are also reliable, but we did not try them as some of the stations are not located in the city centers, hence an additional bus is usually required.

Taxis are cheap, just be careful not be ripped off. Always go for the meter.

For local transport, renting a scooter for 30MR per day is clearly the best way to get around (not for KL), but remember… stick to the left! Petrol is about half the price compared to Europe.

Where to stay

I am a strong adept of, just read the reviews and book it online.


The weather in Malaysia is great, you don’t need more than 1 pair of trousers, take a some shorts, and some slops. If you need to get any cloths just buy it locally. I would recommend to travel light and leave plenty of space for shopping. It is a temptation from start to finish.


Malaysia is home to a pleasant mixture of cultures, and there is no shortage of cheap restaurants. They may seem to the average European different, but guaranteed you will get a good meal. On average we spent about 3 euros per meal. If you go local. If you are looking for western food, it will cost about 10 euros a meal.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Malaysian Trip by the Numbers

The phenomenal trip to Malaysia had so many highlights that it would be difficult to capture everything so here is a list of what we achieved in one of our best holidays ever…



Days 20
Nights 19
Trains 2
Flights 8
Bus 10
Taxi 12
Boat 4
Jet Ski 1
Scooter 2
Beaches 5
Market (traditional) 7
Malls (modern) 5
World Heritage Sites 2
Hostels 9
Eagles sites 3
Turtle Sanctuary 1
Temples 4
Hair Cut 2
New Friends 9
Swimming Pools 2
Massages 2
Caves 2
Fish Farm 1
Butterfly Farm 1
Para-shoot 1
Monkey Sittings 3
Visited Islands 5
Jungle Trek 2
Large Lizards 3


Malaysia has been a really positive surprise. I strongly recommend anyone thinking of visiting this part of the world to stop in Malaysia as this 3 week holiday cost less than 2.5k euros (including air fair).