2015-12-30

Games

A business partner commented that public relations isn't a game. I would disagree.

I can't think of anything in life,  that isn't a game. :-\ I'd like to think that my risk tolerence is moderately high, for discussion's sake say 30%-40%. But upon reflection it's probably closer to 60%-70% - which is to say, I feel content with failures over 2/3 of all attempts to do anything. But that's generally arm-waving as it leaves out the crucial variable of VAR (value at risk, per probability under consideration). After all, in formal science we expect the vast majority of hypotheses to be falsified, in order for us to get anything done. And that's all I feel about daily life, in society and commerce, anyway.

2015-12-29

Dream Stomper

Darlin, where did you go? Why, over there? How did you make it, with so much space to spare? What makes it easy to forget what you said: it's just the ways we knew about our heads. We were, hackers in meat, wrights of flesh, always prepared to wipe our desks... of all memories... [instrumental interlude]

(Oddly enough, inspired by a team running jackhammers in the house next door, while I procrastinate in bed before business meetings. Also maybe by all her posts, and her posts, and her silence, and her absence, and [there are too many missing people in this story].)

Lulz.

This is supposed to be sung in 8/4 time signature over a lilting guitar in a minor key. But if you sing it in 6/4 it sounds funnier.

Random Realestate Hypothesis

Wait for the Kuala Lumpur MRT to be completed. The middle-class will move farther from city centres and the upper-crust will move in to fill the gap, driving up urban realestate prices furthermore. This will be interesting to observe. ETA 2018?

2015-12-27

3/4 Through a 32-hour Shift

Sometimes when I think about it, working in cosy cafes is a strange profession for me to pursue. For example, a lot of the people whom I meet at work like things like sweets, and boardgames. I find both sweets, and games,  disgusting - but it is polite and professional, and socially constructive, to enable others to enjoy these things. So I tolerate these things,  perhaps in the way that a racist tolerates his co-workers of colours, or in the way that a religious person accepts the murderers and molestors that she may meet at the bus stop. I make efforts to emphathise, in the way that we should all try to understand the minds of criminals,  and to share in the suffering of the deranged for the sake of community. Apart from various interactions such as these, I remain a relatively simple fellow. I like to study science, some arts, and a little poetry. I do math, work out, and fuck bitches, when there are women who can tolerate my personality; and when there are no bitches, I am a lonely man;  (and I say that in the colloquial sense, in as much as either partner in an intimate relationship is a biatch to every other). Life is strange indeed. Here we are, on that little rock,  around that little star. Conscious of what is given to our senses. Ignorant of everything without. What to do. Have some coffee. Carry on. Maybe a little more sleep,  eventually.

2015-12-23

Generalists: 20-percenters

I was listening to some young ladies discuss their progression through the emotional intimacies of relationships. In most cases, there's a desire to arrive a deeply unique bond or some kind... let's call it 100%. Generally, the difficulty that appears to be faced by such young ladies is the inability to build such a bond.

If I think then about myself, to find a point of reference, I find that in intimate relationships, as with many of my other interests... I'm not interested in arriving at the 99th percentile of intimacy if it requires reaching into the 99th percentile of effort. Doing 99% and achieving 99% just sounds like mediocre value. I have tended to prefer deals where I can achieve 80% absolute value for 20% of absolute effort. This is just like going to a college where a B+ is the institution's GPA, and aiming for a B+ personal GPA... because it would free up the rest of my time to get non-graded (read: more important) work done.

I suppose more broadly, it is convenient to identify oneself with a unique position within a particular category. It is less convenient to identify oneself with the intersection of multiple subsets across multiple categories. Interdisciplinary work is often like that - but that's no secret to inter-disciplinarians.

Perhaps the definition of success laid out by such types, is to achieve excellence in the discipline of moderation.

In terms of opportunity costs, one then acquires certain mastery of the relationships between the 79th percentile of more subjects than can be achieved by anyone who focuses on the 99th percentile of any single subject.

2015-12-19

Things Talked About

I don't know - the kind of thing I like to talk about:

For me, it was never what we talked about,  but that we could talk about it. So I guess, I'm always sadder when there's less ability to talk about things.

But I figure you already knew that about me. And that you've been needing more space to compartmentalise new experiences. And I'm so happy when I find out that there's something new for you to discover. Which is generally why I like to hear about things. Otherwise I just worry - but that can't be helped, I suppose.

2015-12-12

Random Bits

(Are you peeping, now?)

//

I agree that empathy is important. I disagree that suicide is regretable. If you cared enough to miss the person you should be asking about their outlook on death tongue emoticon

//

Flip partners once a quarter, shower the world with hugs and kisses, and the world will call you a ho. Flip partners once a week, keep your mouth shut in public, and the world will call you a prude. Ain't nobody happy, 'cause haters gonna hate. You just gotta like what you do 'an keep livin. 'Cause nobody gonna do it for you.

It's called public relations management. LOL

//

Managing public relations for a coffee shop with 19 partners running around poking things in the world at large sure is a hassle... hahaha

//

Every now and then, I'm reminded by the frailty of the people whose lives surround me. Blood, sweat, flesh, and tears... these are the components of their lives. And yet they are averse to such imagery. Like children running in the wind, shouting to themselves, "I'm a leaf! I'm a leaf!," unaware of their origins. Accepting of stories they've been told. Clinging like dew drops without a prayer. What wasted efforts they embody. Such sucklings. It is not easy to know, if one should pity or refuse them.

Every day is a good day to die. If you're not ready, you're just out of touch with reality. smile emoticon

//

I hate working with slow landowners. LOL. Can't wait to move right next to the office. Meanwhile, back on shift tonight. Spent the day checking tactical considerations for staff handover, iterations on product development, testing the implementation of common products from popular designs, hammering out creative direction for iconography, and otherwise checking boxes wherever the team tells me to do so. It's good to have help. Let's see how long we last...

2015-12-05

Rationalists in Policy (and Management?)

Let it be known that I don't care about the welfare of any particular staff. I just want to know when we address the welfare of any particular staff, what policies are being applied... so that we are able to effectively question:

(1) the efficacy of our policies,
(2) our failure to apply well defined policies, or
(3) our failure to form well defined policies in the first place.

Efficacy implies telos, so any discussion on motivations for policies falls under (1).
I care about people. I just don't care about individual people. At least, rarely at work.

2015-12-04

The Office that was a Cafe

"Possibly the first 24-hour specialty coffee shop in Asia."
.
Now I'm wondering what's going to shut us down first:
- staffing
- civil war
- health and safety
- other compliance
- exhausted cash flow
smile emoticon

Perhaps one day I should do a book straddling the styles of Dilbert and Dr Seus.

Exec1: Show me how to open the safe.
Exec3: I will show you how to open the safe. Watch, it is easy.
Exec1: I cannot open the safe. Show me again.
Exec3: I will show you again. Watch it is easy. Oh no - I cannot open the safe. What is wrong?
Exec1: Manager, it appears that your exec is not up to the task, of managing a safe.
Manager: Well, [looking at Exec3] he is not the brightest tool in the shed... but [raising voice] I expect that you guys can figure it out using... TEAMWORK. Did you catch my passive aggressive tone of voice? It was intentional hyperbole.
Execs1&3: We will try again! Hurrah, we have opened the safe.
Manager: Now you are both... liable for cash in transit. Even I do not know how to open the safe. Congratulations. Good job! And good day.
Execs1&3: [...]
Exec1: Why did you show me how to open the safe?
Exec3: You asked me to show you, how to open the safe.
Manager: I do not want to know, how to open the safe. No, I do not.

First and foremost, we are not: a dream, a cafe, a talent development agency, a coffee appreciation school, a charity, a place to hang out, a WiFi connection, a furniture lab, a co-working space, a kitchen, or a dining room.

First, and foremost, we are a business. And we exist to turn opportunities into assets.

In the process of achieving the latter, we may deploy the former. But we do so in the spirit of the latter. This thought must permeate the organisation.

I didn't think much of most bodies, until I started dating. Thereafter this body, or that body, reminds me of somebody I've been with.

Who is to say what is personal, and what is not? If people find you impersonal, it merely renders that you and them are different persons. Unfortunately, some people are less personable than others. Such is personality. :P

2015-12-02

On Professional Snobbery

I think it bugs some people that we want to serve an objectively high standard of coffee, but talk about it as if it is perfectly ordinary. But don't you think that's the best way to snob about something? The ordinary expectation needs to be higher. We talk about "so-called special" things as if they are perfectly ordinary, but that means that the stuff that most people regard as "ordinary," which we don't talk about... we silently regard as rubbish.

LOL

We're just a place to work that serves specialty coffee. Not going to tell people it's great. They can decide for themselves... meanwhile we should be focusing on actual quality, since that's where most "specialty" cafes F-up.

"Some people," is a pretty large set... I've gotten this point of view from other cafe owners, partners, staff, friends etc... so not referring to anyone in particular, really... again, I do think there may be a time when I'd like to let go controlling the brand's messaging, but probably not yet... maybe after cashing out. Haha.

Impersonability

Who is to say what is personal, and what is not? If people find you impersonal, it merely renders that you and them are different persons. Unfortunately, some people are less personable than others. Such is personality :P

2015-11-30

Hey Obama

TBH,  I think the "absurd solution," that the USA needs in order to defetishise guns is indeed more guns...  but as part of the public school curriculum. If everyone knows how weapons work,  and if everyone is forced to engage in a close study of the history of violence and its fleshy consequences, I reckon the USA would be a much nicer place for everyone. More war in schools,  please.

2015-11-26

The Sheer Horror

Exciting times. Looking forward to the first acts of CRISPR terrorism - they're going to be horrific. Not because it benefits me that this will happen... but because it seems inevitable,  and the utilitarian reaction seems to be... that one may as well make a joke of it. Otherwise what, one might work on trying to prevent it, I suppose. How ah?

2015-11-19

So Emo

Series A funded startup comes by our cafe. Sales person provides a list of criteria for participation in their service. Criteria include the public advertisement of hours during which cafe prices will be slashed, the specific hours, and the specific margins to be reduced. Staff respond with "we'll have to discuss this internally."

Now get this, it is gold. The sales person says:

"OK. Can I sit here for a while longer? I am feeling emo."
And my advice to staff was:

"Now go get a cup, put two tissues in it, and place it on the table in front of the guest. We must always be hospitable."

2015-11-17

INTP Management

(Insert Tim Gunn supercut.)

Summary:

- People, this is shit.
- You make the difference between the world, which is full of shit, and a better tomorrow.
- Make it work.
- I believe in you.
- Drop mic.
- Standby to pick up pieces.

Repeat ad nauseum.

2015-11-16

Much Ado About Bi-polar Personality Disorder

Some sweetheart just told me, that I am one of their 13 friends on Facebook. Only 13. Because only 13 are trusted. That's hilarious. I have 1338 friends on Facebook, and I don't trust a single one of them! I wake up daily expecting to be run over by a car, to have my bank account emptied, to be beaten to a pulp, or arrested by a third-world government. But none of that stops me from being friendly, and engaging with the world. So I speak, deal, shake hands, and sleep with various ones of you. It doesn't matter how little you relate to other people - if you choose to be in the world, you must engage with the world. We gotta get a'long... come on, people... get serious here.

Why would anyone believe anyone who says "you can trust me," LOL. It behooves an absence of intelligence and the lack of operational integrity that anyone should believe such statements. Which is generally why I don't make such statements... it'll save you time and money. Here's a theatrical statement: faith based economies must die; only science persists.

2015-11-15

Pray for Yourself

(Another reaction to #prayforparis.)

#jesuislefou

Pray for yourself.  Your feelings are hurt,  your mind cowering... in the bleak rage of stories that reach you from places afar - places that were always there, threats that were always there,  loss that was already accounted for... in books which you have failed to open. Your trembling is an abyss,  your ignorance now stripped naked and cold. Pray for yourself lah.

2015-11-13

Alive in a World of Flies :)

People are no mystery. We are lumbering macroscopic events, derived from the information processing minutiae generally referred to as consciousness.

Consciousness' hard problem and the ontological problem are one and the same - the answers... who knows,  who cares: only dreamers.

We see what we can see, and the rest is religion. And then we spend the rest of lives praising our neighbours for their quaint idiocy - finding meaning in animal habits of society, because it's merely easy.

Ho ho ho. Hum hum hum.

2015-11-12

Fabric

Me: "Enjoying gradschool?"
B: "Not enjoying. Just doing. How's work?"
Me: "Same here!!"

If you pick something predictable,  it tends to be boring.

C: "Saw you spewing poetry on Facebook.  Figured you suffered from a broken heart."
Me: "Ah well,  you know it's a fabrication designed to discover just much attention I can create for commercial ends. The URL is "jerngatwork!"
C: "A fabrication?"
Me: "In so much as all speech, thought,  and belief is fabric,  yeah!"

2015-11-10

No Dreamers

In the grand tradition of no-liturgies...


No DREAMERS

Don't be coming in here looking for soul... or inspiration, or the feels, or delight, or fairy lights. There really isn't any other way to say it. No DREAMERS.

Pick yourself up. Lost? Get a mirror. Get a clue. Get sorted. Fix yourself. Upgrade it.
Still looking for a soul? Can't you find it, in that empty heart? 
Work harder. 

Opening Sentence to a Story in 25 Words

From its beginning to its end, nothing was clear about the idea being presented - and yet nothing was uncertain about the writer's intent - he raged.

Coffee Models

Bar talk.
Have you ever played Battleships? You know, with the square grid, and the (X,Y) coordinates. Yes? Ok - you know, they have this 3D version, where you have to guess the (X,Y,Z) coordinates of spaceships. Right. Now can you imagine a 4D version... how would you imagine it? You can't, spatially... but in theory it's the same thing, right, now you just need to be looking for enemies with a (W,X,Y,Z) tuple. The number of dimensions in the space doesn't matter! The space could have ten dimensions! E.g. (Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z), right? Ok. So your coffee calibration model is like that. (It doesn't matter if it's physics, or finance, this is just how systematic modelling works.) Remember, we're just walking through a space... it's just what I do when I get bored.

2015-11-08

Little Reminders

Commerce is so boring,  precisely because anything worth betting on is intrinsically predictable.

2015-11-06

So Many Programs

Activist:
I'm planning on a pay it forward meal project to feed the homeless n the hunger
Wonder if u r keen to join hands

Bar manager:
If you have some way to implement it without involvement from my staff that's great. Like a box you want to put on the counter? But we won't be incorporating any new workflows into our bar unless the baristas all propose it.

Activist:
It will be a social enterprise

Bar manager:
Yah, so if you want to talk to all my staff and convince them to support you, I will allow them to volunteer the effort. But I am not going to force them to do extra work. :)

2015-11-05

Two Philosophers try to Run a Cafe


A: make us a payroll system.
B: here is a system.
A: the system is not MECE.
B: but it is a good system.
A: I will make a better system. Here is a MECE system.
B: but it is an unconventional system.
A: an unconventional system is better than a bad system.
B: we are going to switch back to the system I proposed.
A: fine,  as long as there is an explicit algorithm for operators of the system.

To be continued.
Lol

Maintaining the Peace

Today I told a parent, whose kid was squealing above the ambient volume of sound in the room: "if he gets excited,  I can play with him outside, but we do need to keep the noise level down for our other customers."

The parent switched his dine-in order to takeaway,  and left immediately afterwards. Our mutual friend later commented that the parent may have felt that no warning about quietness requirements had been provided beforehand.

My comments in subsequent discussions were as follows.

1. We're not a "quiet cafe," but we may tend to have lower ambient sound levels due to the nature of activities engaged in by many of our customers: studying, computing,  reading. So when individual sound levels persist above the norm, we may raise the volume of music in order to raise the ambient sound level to a volume which makes it difficult for folks at adjacent tables to hear each other's activities. We may also remind individuals or groups to tone down out of consideration for their neighbours. 

2. If an individual or group receives such reminders, they are under no compulsion to leave the premises unless explicitly directed by staff of the establishment. Following a reminder on communal disturbances, we expect individuals or groups to form their own judgments and to act accordingly. It is the staff's job to deliver announcements in the public interest.

3. We also happen to have a "keep quiet," sign stuck on the wall, in case extreme action is required to reduce sounds caused by any individual or group. It helps us to avoid the "no warnings were given," argument,  but usually the guidelines on such signs are self-enforced by independent members of the public, and we do not refer to these signs explitly for more than 99% of the minutes of each shift.

4. Perhaps in Malaysia it is uncommon for folks to be informed when their group's audible volume exceeds the convenient threshold of ignorance for other groups. Therefore, this may cause a slight shock to groups who recieve such information. This is of limited concern to us - the appropriate behaviour for people in public is to be aware of their surroundings, and to constantly modify their interfaces with local environments as they move about the world. We are not responsible for norms caused by the failure of other establishments that do not remind their customers to be considerate of the general public within a space.

Ok,  I should go to bed and stop working. :p

2015-11-01

Nothing New

The ability to become happy with arbitrary circumstances is more useful than the ability to alter circumstances.

//

I wonder how much of my life will be spent with the privilege of being able to choose to dream or to not-dream. Having no dreams is surely one of the most covenient circumstances that one could hope for. But one then feels sad for everyone else,  and that is all there is to it.

//

On Grammin behind the bar in a party hat:

"This had better generate a lot of traffic. Why else would anyone do it?"

//

On anticipated surprise parties:

"This is me trying to be marketable. Thirteen years ago,  when this happened, I said, "what are you guys doing here?""

2015-10-27

Boxes

The world filled with little boxes, filled with cheese, and cream,  and honey,  and sweets,  electromagnetism,  couches,  hopes,  and dreams, filled up with chemicals, filled up with people who enjoy these things. I don't care about cream,  or how much cheese we have to cram in,  or how much drugs (caffeine!) is pumped in,  or what these people do inside,  if they do things for themselves,  or for their chemically loved ones,  I don't care much for couches,  or brown water,  or EMFs, or for their hopes, or their dreams (all seem trivial,  we are but trivial). I just want to own the little boxes. :)

Comp

On compensation alignment: nearly all folk have a number,  in terms of money-per-period or free-time-per-period,  or a tuple of these,  which models their compensation targets. Employers can only benefit by aligning themselves with these targets.

Thoughts About Life

I wish there were more people on earth who cared more for physics than humanity. Because for the rest of us,  every day is a long trial of disgust, as we wade through the economics of your filial blubberings. One tries not to criticise the boring. One can only make do and pursue an honest living...

It is strange,  when I bring myself to think about it,  to have crafted every single one of many social relations purely for commercial or sexual interest. To have no interest in friendships, or family. It is not a problem, except when one has to discuss it with others who have no such concept in their minds. I suppose all there is to fear, is xenophobia.

//

As I was saying on Tinder:

"Selling sex is easy. Selling sex to the right people is hard. It is the same with selling cake,  isn't it? Say "no," to dumbfuckery."

On Snobbery, in Aesthetics (or anything else, for that matter)

In any case you need to be rich in experience to get it right,  and that means you have to be first rich in either time,  money,  or intelligence. So no dice, economics dictates once more,  a gradient of natural selection pressures.. .

2015-10-24

Having An Absurdist Moment

... at the expense of communal confusion. :'D

Number of staff: +33%
Rate of staff who drive: -17%
Rate of staff with chauffers: +34%
.
And that wasn't the absurd part of my day.

Bartender: And what will the three of you be having?
.
CustomerA: Nothing.
.
Bartender: You have to order something.
.
CustomerB: They already ordered.
.
Bartender: There are six of you, and one hot chocolate. You guys (indicates the three new arrivals) have to order something.
.
CustomerC: Hot chocolate for me.
.
Bartender: Excellent choice. Will that be one hot chocolate and two coffees, or three hot chocolates?
.
CustomerB: Just one.
.
Bartender: You three all have to order something.
.
CustomerA: What's going on?
.
CustomerB: He says, if we don't order something we have to leave. (Who said that?)
.
Bartender: We have tea, coffee, chocolate, brownies, ice cream, ramen, Tim Tams, oat crunch. How about some Tim Tams? One Tim Tam for each of you? Two Ringgit each. Only eight Ringgit.
.
CustomerA: Ok, ok, we'll take the Tim Tams.
.
.
(Nope, not the absurd event. This frequently happens in bars. :p)

So, on the absurd. I was in the shower trying to figure out how to explain the non-transitive nature of shareholder relations without a whiteboard.
.
Consider for instance an evangelical Christian simile. The tradition goes, that God through his infinite (but conditional) grace, granted forgiveness to Sam for sins committed by Sam against God. Raj also sinned against Sam, and was forgiven by Sam, though not by their father in heaven. Raj still goes to hell for sins committed against God.
.
Maybe I'm stretching it, but it is almost 6am...

2015-10-19

Bartending

3pm
Up.

4pm
Admin issues via phone. Breakfast is purchased.

5pm
Customers arrive early; service begins. Electrical failure - resolved; work order placed with corporate services.

6pm
Official hours begin. Entertainment of people that one can read, whom one may never care for, proceeds in earnest.

8.5pm
A lull in activity. Breakfast is eaten.

9pm
Bar service; while discussing accounting, IT,  project management,  and marketing with colleagues, over Slack; entertainment of people one has never met before, whom one may never meet again, continues, with care.

12am
Instawhoring.

1am
Missing cash. Cleaning begins. Multiple Slack conversations in limbo. A piece of cake - freely given,  and consumed.

Training of staff proceeds, as it is a quiet day.

Looking forward to:

2.5am
GTFO. Drive staff home. Find lunch. Get more sleep. Procrastinate on administrative issues.

:)

Such is the game.

PS.  Made it to bed before 5am. "Achievement unlocked," as the gamers say.

2015-10-10

On Dreaming

Some people like to feed their dreams, to keep, to cast,  and chase them. I tend to feel that dreams are like weeds, and annihilation keeps things tidy.  Many people will never enjoy the privilege of choosing between dreaming, and not dreaming. You are the dreamers. We are the cleaners.

2015-10-06

How to Foam Milk

Good introduction:
https://youtu.be/HskGjKR0t8M

Troubleshooting:
https://youtu.be/i0Q6Tl-V_uc

Detailed talk:
https://youtu.be/SL9poPlnp-M

How to Dose for Espresso

1. Dose crudely.
2. Refine dose with scale and teaspoon.
3. Light tamp.
4. Nutate.
5. Heavy tamp on X-axis and Y-axis.
6. Adjust levelling on X-axis and Y-axis.
7. Lock.

SOP ok?


Also Gwilym:
(On Distribution)
(On Tamping)

2015-10-01

Linearity

"Can you get on a call?:
"An email will do. I'm extremely busy. Let's get to the point."
I suppose it comes from a general distrust of people who can't put their thoughts into writing. I infer a negative correlation with structured thought. ‪#‎snob‬

We Hadn't Obtained a License Yet

Well then, I've just fired my last remaining staff for failure to communicate regularly and effectively. If anyone still wants to try working for me it's not a bad time to try.

Let's not mince words. There is no room for the obtuse and infirm in a startup company. A business is a war-machine.

Now I'm considering sending the poor boy a personal donation for compassionate reasons, but I'm not sure if that's helpful for the root problem.

2015-09-27

Thoughts on Talent Management

Some people are like hammers. Some are like nails. A nail can become a hammer, and a hammer can become a nail. But not all nails are destined to become hammers, and not all hammers started out as nails. That is simply the timeless reality of what we have been given, which we refer to as life.

"Why are you yelling?"
"The cows are straying."

2015-09-26

Economics of Life in F&B

The relationship between service vendor, serviced customer, and support staff (read: managers) is one of an economic nature. One may humanise it by admitting that each must know their part, in order for the economy to proceed.

I prefer to be an administrator. But when service provision sucks, I must demonstrate superior service provision. And when the market is tasteless, I must demonstrate superior taste. I do not get to do what I want to do, because the market is weak. If I make the market stronger, maybe then someday I can get back to having fun.

2015-09-25

On Turow's

"Why are millenials so obsessed with food?"

TLDR: the Internet changed how people communicate.

"You can’t get a job, you can’t get a date without branding yourself properly on, you know, whatever app you’re using. You don’t really understand how the Internet works or how your phone works, but food is something you can break down. "

Unfortunately, I have too much control. And that is why I still fall back to my lazy 10-year-old-self's plan of working in an "easy" industry, where my competitive advantage is magnified (the higher the complexity of the business, the better my competitive advantage, because I'm more willing than most to engage with complexities). And I still don't care about taste - foods, fashions, musics. I have preferences, but they are not a deep part of my identity. Closer to home is the ability to manipulate how people think about these things - that's much more interesting. But ultimately I'd just want to take profit and have a nice cosy place to study math.

I always wonder - if I am completely deluded, and we will burn up like a firefly. Psshht. The end. But we have not even begun.

2015-09-21

Cafe Quips

what would you say are the three biggest lessons you learnt since starting this project?
Let's see now.

1. There's a particular plumbing design pattern that funnels all sinks in a shop through a single grease trap. Now I know how it gets done (it's actually just the most obvious, but time-consuming, way).

2. There are, easily accessible, a large number of materials engineering outfits ("workshops") that could support product R&D + manufacturing initiatives, to ride on the weak Ringgit. I'd like to find time to get into that.

3. I can vendor in the entire (coffee market leader) pastry fridge... they do wholesale. LOL

WTF summary:
Who puts 14.4 kiloWatts of air-conditioning in a front-of-house that's smaller than the kitchen of the outlet?!

2015-09-19

No Time for Bullshit

So I go for a coffee with a lady, to discuss the nature of our relationship, come to a consensus that the local legal climate is unconducive to religious Malays dating non-Malays, and end up offering the woman a job instead, before midnight. #businessIsBusiness #noTimeForBullShit

2015-09-18

So I Got Curious... and Wore a Yellow Shirt to the Red Shirt Rally

21Sep2015. My friend Alistair requested that I put a little extra commentary over this event. I really don't have much to say about it.

For a casual reader, you should be aware that I grew up in Malaysia, spoke English at home, attended a Chinese primary school, passed my SPM BM with a C6, and have been working in Kuala Lumpur since 2005. I was born in the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital in 1983, and spent most of my youth futzing around Sentul and Jalan Ipoh neighbourhoods. I am perhaps, a political cynic - I stopped reading the (local political news)papers in 1998 because it seemed like vaudeville. I am a registered voter - I made a point to register - and I have never voted - I made a point to not vote for any party that wasn't convincing. I've held the view for the last 17 or so years, that it would take 20-30 years from that time to get Malaysia into the territory of "modern democracy." It may or may not happen, but I never thought that I should be particularly active in Malaysian politics unless I made a lot of money, and had the clout to go fist to head with the big boys - my view is that political success in Malaysia depends on the size of your ammo box, and the ammunition required is money - that is just how the system was set up prior to my ability to get involved - and it was a well-set-up system (saying nothing about its ethical value).

In any event, the videos below sum up my approach to this whole excitable mess of coloured t-shirts that has erupted across the mainstream media, in recent years. In summary, you may view just the first and final videos - everything in the middle was just evidence that one can walk around in a yellow t-shirt and not get bothered by the majority of people at a rally of the sort that was organised on 16Sep2015. Stick questions in the comments, and I'll banter with you - if you want.

I had a bit of down-time, on the night of 15 September, so I cooked up a little plan to entertain myself.



I parked at the Sentul Timur station, and got on a train.

A video posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on


I wanted to get off at the PWTC station, but was too busy fiddling with my phone, so I skipped it. I got off the train at the Plaza Rakyat LRT station, because it was quite obvious that the view was a good one.



I walked along Jalan Kuching, with the gang.

A video posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on


I started taking photos of other people in yellow shirts.

A photo posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on


A photo posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on


Then I walked over to Padang Merbok, and ran into my friend Shannon on the way over. He was wearing a Ghostbusters t-shirt, which has every colour in the Malaysian flag except... yellow.

A video posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on


There were a number of people in Guy Fawkes masks, no thanks to Vendetta of course, so I made sure to photograph at least one of them.

A video posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on


I walked along Jalan Parlimen towards the loudspeakers, until I realised I had passed the stage, so then I walked back to the stage, approaching from the back. This was from stage left.



The speaker was having a good time.

A video posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on



Shortly after I arrived, it was over.

A video posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on


These were all the people I saw in yellow t-shirts - who knows if they knew what they were wearing. Who cares.

A photo posted by jerng (@thesaturnine) on


Then I walked to Masjid Jamek, and took a train back to my car.

I headed to the nearest cafe, uploaded the videos that were still on my phone, and reached a conclusion about how I felt.



Then I went back to my construction site to build some prototype benches.

2015-09-14

My Personal Opinion on Loyalty

We don't believe in trivial loyalties. If our coffee or service sucks, please correct us, or reward our competitors instead.
Ps. No cards for you. (Not right now, anyway.)

2015-09-13

Bad Business

Monday morning - first order of business is to pay fines to the SSM for dealings with a company last year. Hopefully I can get a discount, and also never be bothered by this company again.

Sudo Timeline

Jul-1: realestate proposal received
Aug-15: capital committed
Aug-21: capital collected (attrition: 1 person)
Sep-3: partnership agreement signed
Sep-11: Malay copy for the signboard officially approved by DBP (Sudo Coffee, Sudo Brew logos, colours also decided by this point)
Sep-13: I'm still worried that we're moving too slowly ... ‪#‎idiot‬
Then again, it would be nice to see revenue before the 90-day mark.

Espresso Tamper Diameters

58.00mm Pullman Standard Flat Base
58.35 to 58.40mm Pullman Standard Flat Base
58.5 mm Pullman Pergtamp Flat Base
58.60mm Pullman BigStep Flat Base

//

58.7mm VST basket inner diameter

41mm La Marzocco single basket inner diameter

40.7-40.9mm Recommended tamper outer diameter for VST 7g baskets

2015-09-10

Mayday, Mayday #tongueInCheek

Today's final heart attack:
'Couch' is not the same as 'sofa', I do not need to repeat this. Semantics aside, the morphemes are completely different. The starkest contrast is the 100% difference in the number of syllables. Beyond that, consider how the former ends in a (technical jargon aside) sound that requires coordination between the lips, jaw/teeth, and lungs, whereas the latter merely ends in an unbecoming scream. No 'sofa's on the signboard, I repeat, "no sofas on the signboard."

2015-09-06

Upping the Game

Improved brewing technology increases our control over quality within any N-dimensional space of input variables.

The 9-bar standard for peak pressure during espresso extraction appears to have been established quite some time ago. How far can we bend that guideline?

An increase in pressure provides an increase in flow-rate, so if we extract at 11 bar, we should be able to grind finer than we do if we extract at 9 bar.

Have you tested many extractions > 9 bar?

Pressure / flow profiling can allow for a slower start. E.g.

2.6 bar 8 seconds
6 bar 4 seconds
11 bar 4 seconds
6 bar till finish

2015-09-03

Miscellany

At its scale, Starbucks has been for quite some time an infrastructure services business. They provide space for free, and charge inflated margins for lousy second wave coffee. They own the space business

With the injection of venture capital into the third wave coffee segment, Starbucks will face increasing pressure on volume, as demand for quality rises.

Third wave coffee shops must focus on providing quality spaces, regardless of location, in order to take Starbucks' market share.

Starbucks is faced with the following options over the next decade. It may capitalise on its core competency of space curation, and begin to collaborate with local artisanal edibles manufacturers on a store-by-store basis, in order to compete with the indie scene. It may instead, invest heavily in cannibalising its second wave coffee supply chain, to move 20-50 of its dry goods volume to third wave coffee. Or it will go the way of Subway and McDonalds.

If I ran Starbucks, I would be working very carefully on these items. But I'm not, so I'm just trying to get ahead on item 1.

smile emoticon

//

There have been fireworks at midnight over Kuala Lumpur city, as August 30 transitions to August 31, every year - for many years. Do you remember the last year when they didn't have those fireworks?
This year, there were no fireworks. A few thousand people gathered to complain about the authority of one man, and that one man decided to punish the people by removing their fireworks. Too bad, so sad. But that was the clearest difference that year.
Everything else was the usual drivel. Everything else, that year.

//

"I don't know how you want to use (digital postits), I do not care if you use, or do not use (digital postits), but I need you to generate a report with a current picture of the entire organisation EVERY DAY"

//

Sick. But much remains undone. Hehehe.

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If you don't learn from fuck-ups, that's bad. If you don't let yourself fuck up quickly, cheaply, and frequently, that's really really really bad...

//

Today before bed, I'm wondering which happens first:
- I walk in and find a rapidly cooling body on the floor
- we run out of cash
- we piss off a member if the public/sector
I guess I should forget about all that till the morning. smile emoticon

Not by Committee

"How do you fix the education system? If you gather a task-force, everyone will have differing opinions. The system is top-down, only because of the money!" said my friend on Facebook.

Therefore, you fix it with $$. Watch. We're going to try something a little different.

2015-09-02

Screws

"Screw" on Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screw

"Screw Thread" on Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screw_thread

Wood Screw Chart:
http://www.wlfuller.com/html/wood_screw_chart.html

Understanding Screw Sizes:
http://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/13824/understanding-screw-sizes

Screws Explained:
http://handycrowd.com/screws-explained-gauge-size-pilot-holes-and-wall-plugs/

2015-09-01

Grinds, Germs, and Steel

And copy compliance. (In Malaysia, a city council may require you to obtain for your shop sign AUTHORISED COPY from the Hall of Language and Books.

I'm going to see if we can get "Kafe Pustaka" signed off...

2015-08-29

Stingy

Sensory training. Turns out the back-of-throat stinginess I get from coffee sometimes, is basically a reaction to acid. (Vinegar and water in varying concentrations was used to determine this.)

Will Najib Condone Violence at Bersih4?

Some of my friends think not. Here is what I think.

The point of risk management is not to address probable scenarios (given information that is available), but to address scenarios which may or may not occur subject to information that is currently unavailable (risk management therefore requires as much creativity and imagination as sales).

I have seen, on the event of previous demonstrations:
- uniformed traffic cops surrounding and stomping on civilians
- ununiformed individuals armed with batons, responding to the orders of uniformed policemen, attacking customers of restaurants
- tear gas canisters installed above the street, fired into the middle of a crowd such as to disperse it

None of this is extraordinary. However...

We know of the past and present leadership:
- Mahathir was both selfish and smart
- Abdullah was neither aggressively selfish nor smart (or he's just not yet been outed :p)
- Najib is very selfish but not very smart

... and that the latter is the combination which is to be most feared, due to the potential devastation of its bumbling follies.

All I'm saying, as usual, is be a good boy scout if you're going to attend a mob event, in the land of lawless people.

I mean, come on, we have been watching this go on for 15 to 20 years now. Back in the late 90s it was already evident from the density of most Malaysians that major change from the police state would probably require a 20 to 30 year time frame.

I have always believed that major changes from that trajectory would probably require war. If enough people believe in change, it can happen quickly, but some people will die.

Given that I believe that much, it is only reasonable for me to believe that on the other side of the political fence there are those who hold the same beliefs, but with converse interests... so to further retard the trajectory of already slow change, they must surely be willing to cause civilians to die.

Do we need to pursue the anecdotal evidence that illustrates that these points of view are perhaps held by those with vested interests, and access to lots of capital, such that they are ready, able, and willing to act against the public good? I don't think we should bother - it's easier for me to buy some stuff (bandages, vinegar, water) from a sundry shop and see if I have to use it.

:p

So... Tonight: buy many medicine - hang up white t-shirt to dry for the morning. Standby to help in case of massacre.

Note to my business partners:
"@group I'll be popping down for a little stroll in the city tomorrow morning... chaperoning my dad who is in his 60s... we will be wearing neutral t-shirts, either black or white. Just FYI, if I accidentally disappear for a few days, the blokes ( x and y) have all the important information required to get us done with renovations... for banking, look to z. :simple_smile: For those of you unfamiliar with Malaysian politics, this is erm... business as usual on an almost annual basis... I just treat it as a tourist event, and attend to help myself better understand the people of my country."

2015-08-26

Cheating with Espresso

On a lighter note, today we confirmed that it is possible to serve candy shots (uber ristrettos) from RM90/kg sub-specialty-grade beans, and a VBM Domobar Jr Double Boiler... basically dosing the basket up to the cojones, nutation tamping, smashing it into the grouphead, and watching it drip very slowly, cutting a couple of seconds after the dark stuff constitutes less than 50% of what's currently flowing out...

... no weighing, no thermometers, pressure gauge all wonky-like at 10-bar, no shot-timers... just good old cowboyin...

Bersih Season Again (sigh)

Lawan tetap lawan.
Liwat tetap liwat.
Lawan tak lawan, liwat tak liwat...
Bau duit tetap wangi.
‪#‎malaysia‬

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Former US ambassador laments the state of democracy in Malaysia. I'm 32-years-old. In my adult life, there has never been a democracy in Malaysia. I just laugh at those who haven't noticed.

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Team Red putting out press statements, saying that they are training with knives.

So, you've been warned. Look out for planted instigators in yellow t-shirts. They would pick a fight, and the reds would retaliate, there would be a blood-bath, and a state of emergency. Please be advised, as are those familiar with our history, that this is STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE in Malaysia. Sekian. Do what you must.

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Rallies? Coups?

Each to their own level of comfort. :) Simple economics. I believe that change can happen, regardless of my involvement, so I basically function as a freeloader because I can. If I go to rallies , it is because I am bored that day. I've generally said, "call me when there's a war..." because I'm comfortable investing my time in fast, harsh, solutions. I'm not comfortable investing my time in indeterminate timelineless solutions as the pay-off doesn't work out for me. It's too waffly. As far as waffling goes, I'm happy to sit out of politics and let the others go first (Magneto would say "pawns," but I don't think that's an accurate metaphor). Each has to do, what he or she feels compelled to. :)

2015-08-20

Just Another Day

Wake up; drive to shop.
Glazier is installing a frame; masons are bickering again.
Call woman about wood; quote not ready.
Drive to colleagues; feed; conduct meetings.
One has to focus on corporate admin; one has to focus on procurement.
Pump gas while one eats.
Drive everyone to collect a signature; then to buy a silent hoover; hoover is out of stock; then to collect forms for the ISP.
Drop one off to do desk work; take the other on a procurement run.
Split up and farm prices for tiles, taps, pumps, and heaters; rush around as shops are closing at 5:30pm to obtain 90 tiles, 4 taps, and a water heater; car is sagging.
Drive in rush hour traffic to an industrial area to hand a deposit to a plumber.
Drive to shop, dump tiles, take everything else home.
Dump one back at his car.
Feed.
Drive to mall; scope furniture, hoovers, iceboxes, and speakers.
Buy a hoover and an icebox.
Drive home.
Retrieve box of 50 pens I absent-mindedly left at the mamak last night
Feed.
Walk home.
Catching up on deskwork...
... whee!

2015-08-16

Veidt and Carver

First signatures on the agreement, down!
Allow me to tell a lie: the real plan is to stick a cafe in every neightbourhood, and then to flip a switch and turn them all into a single network of libraries. As she who controls the narrative, controls the future. ;)

2015-08-14

To Hell with the Indirection

A thought experiment:

We're a specialty coffee shop, so we're going to charge per gram of coffee brewed... not by how much water ended up in your cup.
"You'd like a coffee - specialty grade? Excellent. We're serving a Colombian from XYZ estate, roasted by ABC. It's costing us 9.5 sen/gram, and the dosage right now is 20 grams, but it's still a bit too fresh and boring, so the markup is only 3x today - we recommend it black. Black is fine? Ok. Five-seventy, please. Milk on the side? Really? One ringgit for a once ounce serving, only. Thank you very much, here's your change. Come back in two days - we'll probably be charging 5x but it'll be worth it, if the previous batch is anything to go by..."

:p

2015-08-12

Mature Separations

Farewell, my young love. May you destroy the world, and rebuild it in these years. Perhaps then, we'll meet again.

2015-08-11

Habars

The long game for me is non-alcoholic bars. Taste should be superior to inebriation. It's just the market I happen to live in!

TBH, I don't believe in taste, myself, but I do believe that mastering the taste preferences of a given market can make me a lot of money. I invest in utilitarianism. I'm actually interested in math.

2015-08-09

All or Nothing? And the End Game?

Catching up on paper work in between cuddles. I wonder how many portfolio projects I'll have to do before I get a real job. And by "real job," I mean the sort of role I shamelessly designed my career to be qualified for... getting paid for opinions. It's generally an all-or-nothing approach, since otherwise I plan my life around the minimum wage, with an $80/month mortgage, and no insurance whatsoever. Maybe I'll get there in a few more years, maybe never, maybe I'll get hit by a truck first. Let's, find, out...

2015-08-08

Briefing for freshie bartenders

In the future you will expect to piss off a customer 3 times in ten minutes. The entire service cycle can start and end three times in ten minutes. Then get used to doing those ten minutes for 2 hours straight twice a day. Heheh. Plus 6 hours of less exciting duty. It should become pretty obvious, pretty quickly, if you aren't interested in learning how to do this.
In other news:
Partner: "Why don't we explicitly state that the cake is Instagrammable?"
Me: "Because you then sound like you care. And thereby become mediocre."
Well to tear down the economics / psychology of it... here, the marketer basically panders to the narcissism of the audience.

People take photos of things, in order to keep or share them, because either:
(a) the sight of the thing makes them happy (utilitarian complexities abstracted), or
(b) they believe that they will want to revisit the sight of the thing, or
(c) they believe that the shared sights will make others happy AND that the happiness of others thus derived will in turn make the photographer happier ("but I just want other people to be happy; yes, because it makes you happy")

So:
(a) telling people "this cake will make you happy" is obtuse (or Orwellian)
(b) reminding people that technology exists to help them achieve this goal is actually a legitimate argument for the deployment of "this is an instagrammable cake" signs (but seriously - it's 2015...)
(c) refer to (a)... what kind of moron wants to be told that they need to be told what their tastes are? OK - I concede... you can occasionally say "Instagram this," But you have to also provide an argument along the lines of "because it's only going to last for 10 seconds."
Roach, ass, char seow, burnt stick, cardboard, tissue paper, tar... know your coffee descriptors tongue emoticon don't be all pussyfooting around the defects.

2015-08-02

Risk Profiles

I don't care so much if I look good, or bad, as long as I'm entertained - I think that's where I rub a lot people the wrong way. smile emoticon

Good lookin', or bad lookin'.
Rich, or poor.
Dead, or alive.

Even while one's alive, health is preferable to sickness. But we die anyway. Probably.

2015-08-01

I See Robots

"Haha. I like that you're like "I like robots!"."
"I didn't say, "I like robots," I said, "I build robots," I mean, when I look at people, all I see are robots."

And when I look at programs, all I see are little people. Sorry, kids, you may be a snowflake, but that doesn't make you special. Humanity, is so, predictable...
Not sure if people I talk to don't really get me... or are just trying to convince themselves that I'm not as weird as I say I am.

sudo go

Yesterday we ordered the espresso machine.

Today we passed the bureaucratic milestone of owning a literal rubber stamp (for the partnership's name and registration number). We also signed the tenancy and pre-paid rent through to February. We'll run it by candlelight if we have to ;) #notABonFireIHope

P.S. we bought a domain name.

2015-07-29

INTP in Commerce

I feel absolutely nothing, putting moving medium sized sums of money around in the name of business.

That training to resist flinching while watching 85,000 MYR burn slowly over four months back in 2012... it seems to have paid off.

Everyday, we grow stronger. Hehe.

2015-07-28

Major Search: 2015

Since I'm doing an earlier session, I can hang around and do the Philosophy booth.

The academic discipline of Philosophy exists to train students in the skill of recognising that all propositions (beliefs/ answers to questions) are subject to assumptions.

So if anyone appears to be either undecided or too sure about their major preference, feel free to send them over to the DOP. I would probably be busy trying to convince people that they haven't properly thought about whether they should be going to college in the first place.

:P

Meanwhile, fund-raising for the cafe project has been fun. I don't think I've had that much fun networking since I had to run a Christian Fellowship in middle school.

2015-07-25

Negation

People with empty minds believe, that a person is defined by what they do. I tend to think that people are more accurately defined by what they avoid doing.

2015-07-24

Design Approaches

Here's my take on style for this project. If by some freak accident the cafe gets dug up by archaeologists 10,000 years from now, it should be pretty damn clear what every object was for without having to think too hard about it. ‪#‎japanGetsItRightSometimes‬

Pasar Malam

"Looks like we will have 10-20 partners."
"That's a pasar malam..."
"Raise money the hard way. What to do tongue emoticon"
"Too many partners."
"Look, adult companies have thousands of partners. My advice is that you start getting cosy."
:D

2015-07-23

The Hipsterisation of Investment Banking

That one time an investor offers to buy a put option for his stake at 10%, and I try to convince him that taking a 20% convertible note would make more sense. #tooHonest

Now this is the second new cafe business I've worked on that seems overly engineered, financially.

And then it occurs to me that in the future personalised banking market, with sophisticated middle-class investors, and mature governance over small businesses - the role of the personal banker is to locate good deals in hyperlocal scale, and to structure instruments about them.

The Unexcited

... are perhaps, the Perpetually Excited.
Seriously people. I walk on the street and I see ass everywhere. I see ass in jeans, in skirts, in trousers... how is that you get excited about ass only when it is in shorts and strings? Did you forget it was there? I never forget. What is wrong with you... -_-

2015-07-21

The Velvet Revolver


The successor to red velvet involves raw lemons. Wait, I show you. Forget it, I'll just tell you.
1. Reduce cake by 70% (and make sure the crust is toasty)
2. Increase cream cheese by 100%
3. Serve with raw lemon flesh (pick any format you like)

2015-07-20

Why We Will Fail

2pm, Sunday, 19 July 2015.

Notes to prospective investors, from the great cafe roadshow.
  • Total offers of interest (firm): steady around RMx50,000
  • Total offers of interest (firm+unfirm): declined by RM80,000, to RMx49,000
  • Potential investors met today: 3
  • Potential investors (firm+unfirm): 10-20
  • Potential investors approached: 1-2 hundred
  • Duration of project so far: 3-4 weeks
I got up at 6 a.m. today, to show a prospective investor the location for our proposed cafe. It sits by the crossing of two highways. One runs East to West, from Kuala Lumpur to the port of Klang; the other runs North to South, through a 25-kilometre strip of affluent Selangor neighbourhoods. The immediate neighbourhood is mature, its housing prices have quintupled over the past three decades. The square immediately across the highway from our shop is finally having its courtyard transformed into high-rise condominiums and offices, after twenty years; on the other side of our shop the transformation of another square is nearing completion. Our opportunity lies on a sleepy single-row of old businesses: Chinese coffee shops, tailors, serviced laundries, kedai runcits - we are flanked by a barber, what appears to be a film (!) photography shop and a hardware store. In terms of hipster cred, there's a small chance this is impregnable.

Further up the row, are 24-7 businesses: a massage parlour, a tow truck and auto-service centre, and four cybercafes which draw an e-sports crowd. I've always thought that KL lacks 24-7 Starbucks-like facilities, so hey - when the tenancy popped up, this seemed like a nice place to kick-off. I'm not counting on much business from foot traffic, but this is not quite a deadzone.

Third-Places and Their Conflation with Second-Places

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place)

Our first investor of the day is visiting from the Far East. He has seen cafes in Paris that adopt a co-working charge-for-space business model, and he has been wondering about the feasibility of getting into such a business in Malaysia. We talk about the history of such attempts over the past five years in the Klang Valley. I tend towards the view that the market for space rentals is still a bit premature, but at EUR 4 (MYR 1718.22) per hour, for a free-flow of coffee, I think we might be able to work something out. If you are unfamiliar with this model, consider its poster-child: WeWork.
My own objective in this venture has been to operate infrastructure. Whether we ultimately charge customers by units of consumable food and beverage, or by units of space and time, the 24-7 coffee, couches, and Wi-Fi service market is (at this time) a blue ocean. However, it has negligible barriers to entry. We have a decent network of service-sector professionals and startup executives who would patronise such a business, but as soon as the model is shown to work (if ever it is shown to work) all the other 40 to 50 coffee shops and 100 to 200 eateries within a two kilometre radius could flip a switch and do the same - notwithstanding labour challenges. With regards to this opportunity, our intention is to field an early advance into the market.

Coffee Quality

So what of the wave that will follow? A number of our firm investors are confident that the acceleration in hipster cafes and quirky F&B restaurants over the past 24 months has already turned the sector bubblicious, even many months ago. There is no shortage of mediocre hipster food or coffee in our cafe's immediate vicinity.

Now I tend to think that marketing to hipsters is not a clear objective. Trends change, and mutating randomly is not a value proposition that I would invest in, myself. The stylistic elements of the establishment must target a timeless audience. Hipsters are a ready audience, during an economic boom, but their fast money is not steady money. What should our value proposition be?

To put it bluntly, the 25 to 30 cafes in the neighbourhood aiming to provide coffee that is "good enough," are not our competition. Degrees of quality in specialty coffee can be determined empirically - but perhaps only by about 1% of our local coffee drinkers: those who have both a particular degree of sensory sensitivity, and some experience in studying various qualities of coffee. We aim to offer every possible coffee option on the market to include all drinkers, but we must provide superior options for those who are willing to pay for it.

Two years ago when I helped a client to set up a specialty coffee shop, ahead of the recent wave, our empirical research indicated that there were only two or three cafes of sufficient quality that catered to the 1%. At this time, through the boom and partial bust of the quality bubble (much expenditure appears to be froth - with dumb money being funneled into unnecessary equipment and put on display in storefronts), our view is that there are currently only eight to ten cafes which deliver specialty coffee of a consistency that can be said to be tolerable.

We Believe in the 1%

Two of our potential investors backed out today. Their leader cited a summary contention that the proposed location of our cafe is uncompetitive. Based on that alone, I agree that this is the wrong deal for these investors, as our entire pitch for this project is crafted for the specific real estate opportunity that has presented itself by these highways and in between these squares.

One of the supporting contentions is that there are too many cafes and hipster restaurants nearby. A list was presented. My view is simply that,
  1. none of the cafes on that list have specialty coffee as a priority 
  2. none of them are open 24-7
  3. we're not interested in being hip/ster (offhand, I'd guess we're going to be erring away from Kinfolk, towards WSJ and Vogue)
(2.) is our main game in the mid-term, and (1.) is our main gimmick in the short term: we are attempting to compete with the top eight to ten quality coffee brewers in the Klang Valley.

Uncertainty and the Abyss

We can excel in this industry if we:
  • deliver excellent products, for that subset of our products which is labeled as "fine"
  • deliver consistent visual and aural iconography ("branding")
  • optimise every layer of our service architecture
  • relentlessly tune our cashflow
  • relentlessly innovate
And we will fail if we do not:
  • deliver superior customer service
  • deliver reliable infrastructure
All of these will be our operating foci, and with some luck if we fail, we will at least not-die.

(Also refer to A Cafe Marketing Strategy - http://sextechandmergers.blogspot.com/2015/07/cafe-marketing.html )

2015-07-18

Focus on Fun

I think I'm generally into relationships for sex, not romance. Like I'm into commerce for money, not fun. But three of the four things listed are really unnecessary - one should know how to have fun, regardless of circumstances.
"You're a busy guy these days."
"I've always been busy. But this is sales. Sales, is loud, by nature."

2015-07-16

Gender Bias, in F&B Compensation

So a candidate for F&B operations made an comment about men being paid more than women, in general. I thought that was interesting, and said something along the lines of:
You might find more interesting data on women being paid more, in the entertainment industry, as the economics of women being more attractive creates specific incentives for certain targets markets. Likewise you may find that specific cafes have branding policies which are biased towards hiring either attractive men, OR women, but (often not) both at the same time. I would encourage you to (visit many cafes), to familiarise yourself with the market. Let me know if you have any observations to discuss from your study. :)

Pop by during busy hours, and observe for 1-2 hours per cafe, the interactions between staff and customers of (any) gender. Look for patterns and see if you discover anything, at any particular cafe. It can be quite amusing.

You can look through the Instagram accounts of each cafe also. That will save you some time.

Labour Microeconomics

1. Many people don't know what their hourly rate is.

2. Many people think their hourly rate in domain A should influence their hourly rate in domain B, prior to the demonstration of competence in domain B. This is a fallacy.

3. Many people haven't thought about what they would be willing to do if their hourly rate was increased to X.

Specialty Branding Operations

There's nothing wrong with a preference for commodities over customised products. The problem is that many consumers unknowingly pay high premiums for low-cost goods, sold under the banner of quality.

The first thing every specialised business needs to do... is to demonstrate the difference between specialised and non-specialised products.

As soon as the difference is clear to consumers, consumers can decide if they prefer commodities, over specialised services and products. And they become aware of a clear preference for one or the other, which is becoming of more intelligent consumers. It saves their money.

2015-07-15

Recipes to Attempt

2015-07

(Chilled Pomegranate + Peanut Butter) Toast... another effort to replace more of the rubbish in our daily food with fruit. (Probably because I met a fruit addict today - she runs a fruit shop.) The toast, must be 'yay' thin, probably a half cm prior to compression.

2015-07-14

A Cafe Marketing Strategy

What are the main issues of the cafe "industry" in KL and how do you plan to go about overcoming them?

A Singaporean investor asked that question. This was my brief answer. TL;DR - it doesn't have to be F&B. Please note that this approach regards a very specific real estate opportunity, and should not be consumed as general advice for cafe owners. 


Let's consider the markets for

  • good customer service
  • public spaces
  • wifi
  • coffee in general
  • specialty coffee
  • food tourism "the food is that good"
  • space tourism "the space/architecture is that good"


The consumers to which these value propositions apply are different (of course, the sets overlap).


//

  • food tourism "the food is that good"

This has the lowest priority. It's easier for me to deploy specialty coffee, than an entire kitchen menu. But if we capitalise in the 300-500k MYR range, then we're good to try this.

//



  • specialty coffee
  • space tourism "the space/architecture is that good"

This has the next lowest priority. There are a LOT of food tourists and space tourists who basically follow hearsay, the contemporary manifestation of which is Instagram (VERY VERY IMPORTANT). There are also a few, but much more tightly knit, specialty coffee tourists who only go to the few coffee shops that deliver coffee of a certain quality. We can only address this market if we capitalise in the 190-390k MYR range, simply due to capEx requirements. (Making things look pretty, is curatable, but it's a bit easier if the space is also designed right and spruced up with a nice finish.) Good espresso machines cost money.

//

  • public spaces
  • wifi Internet access
  • coffee in general

This is all I intend to focus on if we capitalise in the 150-250k MYR range. It's an infrastructure play. We want to keep costs low, be "always on," and provide the facility that 24-7 public libraries provide in more developed societies.

//

  • good customer service

As discussed in the State of the Union, this is the only thing most low-budget F&B places really have as their Unique Selling Point. It's an artist management business - as long as the audience feels a personal relationship with the staff, the audience patronises the establishment. That is what most F&B owners don't bother to curate, and that is often why they fail.

2015-07-12

Easy Bs

People who ask if I'm going to get bored of the coffee business are missing the point, and they probably don't know me very well. I'm already bored. Commerce in general bores me - boredom, as such, is a very core part of my identity. I like F&B because I find it easy. I like washing toilets and mopping floors because I don't have to sit down all day (my hobbies, which largely involve pen and paper, or computers, generally require me to be deskbound). I'm in coffee because of all the boring things in the world, running a basic bitch neighbourhood F&B joint strikes me as a pretty easy domain - a view I've had since I was ten or eleven. I'm in coffee for the same reason I majored in Philosophy, in college - it was an easy B. Of course, I could be wrong, but that's ok by me. :D

I wonder how scary that is for investors. I imagine that it ranges from nonchalance, to absolutely terrifying "we don't touch this."

2015-07-11

Another Retreat

There was, not too long ago, a seven month project.

In the beginning, before my time, the mandate had been for multiple teams to be set up, each working on a particular new product. Many of these teams had outsourced their technology development, and each outsourcer had begun work on a stack that was completely different from the others.

By the time I was pulled into it, it had been running for six to ten months. The mandate for me at the time to was to set up an engineering team, and to streamline these applications. I recommended the implementation of a single engineering team to build and operate all these applications on a common platform. But, ex-technology, the organisation faced problems in other aspects of business development: lacking quantified KPIs, detailed financial governance, operations teams, and a cohesive narrative about each of several products. Much of this was obvious as soon as the situation was described to me.

Once on-site, we had four products to recover. Hiring was complete by the end of month-2. The team stood at five. The prototype application, which would be the parent of all other applications, was prepared in the first week of month-3... this was effectively a clone of the simplest of the four products to be recovered. That product's business operations were shut down in the same month. The team moved to repairing another application.

In month-4, the business owner of the third of the four applications requested that the engineering team provide design services. I took it upon myself to play the role of product owner in order to deliver this. As we neared the end of month-5, it became clear that no operations staff has been hired in that business unit since its inception nine to ten months prior - despite loud warnings from myself over the past four months.

So the first application, and the third application, had no operations teams. We had two new applications being demanded from top management. I volunteered to set up an operations team, with the caveat that we should kill off some of these applications if their operations proved to be unfeasible within a month. We would begin in month-6. We did not face negative criticism in month-6, whereas our lead developer, fatigued by the organisation, jumped ship instead of accepting an official promotion. We hastily scraped together replacement engineers for that, and other roles which had been schedule to end in the same month. We hired engineers with no experience in software operations, and several part-time students, as well as a remote engineer.

In month-7, top management became agitated that progress had been limited. Additionally, a non-engineer received the mandate to "restructure engineering." I had been signalling my interest in a holiday for several weeks, and then I was informed that my termination would be by the end of the final week of month-7. I was happy.

//


All of this leaves out various sub-plots and stories about a fifth, a sixth, and a seventh application, housed under the same roof. Those, we let loose to the sands of time.

Much happened thereafter, but it is not my place to say what.

2015-07-10

Pretty Much Why I Can't Musk

Musk: “If we don’t succeed...people will say, ‘Well, they couldn’t do it, how can we?’”

Me: "If I don't succeed, someone else will figure it out. It's not that hard."

2015-07-09

Abyss. And Instant Noodles.

I was wondering where my day went, then I remembered a random job interview that an acquaintance set me up for. There was no clear problem definition, besides the absence of a warm body, so I referred four candidates to the employer. More pro bono work, I suppose.

2015-07-04

Community Marketing

For the Nth time, the USP of a F&B joint is the quality of relationships that its staff form with its customers. Go on, ask your local hairdresser what his USP is. He is the USP. The staff he trains are the USP. It's an artist management business. If you don't get this, you're better off trying to become McDonalds, not an indie brand. LOL

Why Do Some Names Keep Coming Up?

I was wondering why Mark Zuckerburg is so popular, so I reminded myself. I'm surrounded by people who care about family and friends, and making tons of money, and giving lip. But those four things have over the years become low priorities for me, and so, I feel strange.

Mars? Telepathy? Pride?

Often I run into people trying to do something... special... something different... something that blows their minds, and the minds of the people around them. Then I cock my head go home for a good sob about how sheltered and boring the whole lot are.

2015-07-03

Cafe? No Cafe...

Some people like to work hard to sell stuff that's worthless.
Some people like to work hard to buy it.
Some people don't like cleaning toilets.
Some people don't like working hard.
Pick your own stress level, and tell everyone else to go play far, far away. :)

//

Talked to a bunch of cafe owners. Scoped machines & tools. Started a publicity campaign to name the cafe. Hired a coffee enthusiast who lives nearby. Looking into an internship at a carpenter's shop. Checked credit facilities. Did a few projections. Took note of good deals at IKEA which will expire in a few hours. However, we do not have enough capital to do this, safely, as yet. So no, it's not YET happening.

2015-06-29

Vaca Month 1 of 4: Reflections

- reduce inhibitions to activity: stay busy, as long as it comes naturally
- reduce efforts to be social: make more effort to ignore plebian concerns such as making things that solve problems, caring about people, and running a profitable business (since it's a "vaca")
- increase discipline in physical labour (as there's never enough of this, and it is upstream from cognitive well-being)
- try not to lose too much money
//
About a week into revision of studies from 2003 (psychosomatic) through to 2012 (financial economic)... a few things come to mind. (1) I need to be more aggressive with my money - passive investments are very distracting. (2) I need to remove more inhibitions to first-order sensation (SNS recognitions) which have been put into place during periods of professional employment; these optimisations have no place in my nature; and while I am unpaid to maintain them they serve only to clutter my thought, and to cripple my reaction times.
Malaysia retains Fitch rating. Tsiripas backs up on threats. Volatile days.

Pretty conflicted:

- stock market studies
- software studies
- food and beverage studies

Busy vacation. I should probably consolidate...

I guess I'll put an end to F&B except for very large/long/clear projects by the end of July. And I'll attempt to maximise the passivity of my trading style.
Doing hard things is painful. Doing them alone, is lonely. I think I need to dress better to feel better, today. Haha...

2015-06-28

Neo-stoic Humour

The most challenging aspect of my consulting approach, is persuading clients that THEIR DESIRES ARE FLAWED. The reason for this is, that while many people are somewhat willing to consider the analysis of their heads, fewer are willing to consider an analysis of their hearts.

Passion is the bane of my existence. I must be the change I wish to see in the world. Onward!

Do not confuse nonchalance with anarchy. Anarchy desires rebellion. Nonchalance desires nothing. Nonchalance does not despise democracy, nonchalance despises only the desire for democracy - and likewise nonchalance despises the desire for anarchy.

2015-06-27

Golang Again

I first read the Golang spec in 2011. Then I spent 2012 studying Erlang and Haskell syntax. Today I went through the Golang spec again - it's been a while!

While I am on tract to retain certain commercial work while pursuing a few months of studies... I must remind myself to remain undaunted by this complexity. Fear is a mind-killer, indeed. It doesn't help the rate of learning, at all.
More time spent on client work. Still not a lot of vacationing in sight. Let's see how long this goes on for. On the other hand, budget control is shaping up nicely. I really don't remember the last time I got charged RM2.50 for food at a mamak restaurant in Petaling Jaya.
Current readings:

Current toolbox:
- Golang for glue
- Cayley for graph traversal
- PostGIS with SFCGAL for spatial storage/queries