Monthly Archives: March 2013

Shiseido – and Japan philosophy of service

Little Omotenashi photo little-omotenashi_zpsb24a009a.jpgOmotenashi

The highest form of hospitality is Omotenashi. In summary, it’s “the host anticipates the needs of the guest in advance and offers a pleasant service that guests don’t expect.”

Coming from a pharmacy, to a leading cosmetics vendors in the world economy, is not simple. However, Shiseido did it.

I will not go further into the analysis how a small pharmacy can grow to a company, and how an Asian organization can succeed in such a competitive market, where Western companies have lots of technology advantages. There are quite a few reasons: the timing, the technologies, marketing… and so on.  Just forget them for now. The only thing that makes Shiseido special, in my view, is the reason for that the company exists.

Shiseido is built on the philosophy of Omotenashi.

Omotenashi photo japanesegirl_zpsb9b6cc23.jpg

Omotenashi: The word ‘Omotenashi’ in Japanese comes from omote (surface) and nashi (less), which means “single-hearted”, and also mote (carry) and nashi (accomplish), which means “to achieve”. Therefore, Omotenashi has two meanings, which include offering a service without expectation of any returned favour, and the ability to actualise that idea into an action.

Don’t take the word, look into their action:

Only in the Mirai-Tsubaki 2012 project, Shiseido sent out 45,800 employees to do 131 social welfare activities throughout the world. They build schools, give books to students, promoting good traffic behaviors, send cosmetics (yep) to victims of the Japan earthquake 2011, training handicapped women in Vietnam, planting trees, developing natural-friendly cosmetics, recycling drugs,… And they do it all when the financial situation is going down.

Shiseido considers the most beautiful skin is the natural skin. It believes that the skin itself can’t be good without the well-being of the whole person, the harmony of both body and mind. The true beauty doesn’t come from the skin itself, but come from the caring, empathy of the people. I remember a story, when a young American girl comes to cosmetics store for a make-up. The consultant tells her: “you are young, and your skin is beautiful already. You don’t need any make-ups. Instead, you should learn how to take care of your skin, so that it will be always beautiful.”

That’s how an organization can LAST.

Never use “reserved keyword” as column name

The title says it all. Never EVER use the reserved keyword of a database system for a column name. You will meet problems that cost lots of time (which isn’t worth at all!)

If someone tells you about this little trick:

<hibernate-mapping>
    <class name="long.model.User" table="USER">
        <cache usage="read-write"/>
        <id name="id" column="ID">
            <generator class="sequence">
                <param name="sequence">user_seq</param>
            </generator>
        </id>

        <property name="position" column=""POSITION""/>
    </class>
</hibernate-mapping>

Then just kick him in the ass! Why we should use something as dirty as “"”?

If you still not believe, take the example above, then try to UPDATE the position of a random user.

As you may guess:

UPDATE public.user set position = 'MANAGER'; // NOT WORK 
UPDATE public.user set 'position' = 'MANAGER'; // NOT WORK 
UPDATE public.user u set u.'position' = 'MANAGER'; // NOT WORK AGAIN 
UPDATE public.user u set u.POSITION = 'MANAGER'; // NOT WORK! 

…..

Here’s what you MUST do if already get fallen into the trap

UPDATE public.user set "POSITION" = "MANAGER"; // WORK! Windows only 
UPDATE public.user set "POSITION" = 'MANAGER'; // WORK! only Linux 

Hence don’t try to trick the system. Curiosity is good, but you might need to pay for it by several hours playing with how Postgresql deal with case-sensitive name. Nice to find out, but either way, it isn’t a portable database script.

[Duolingo Introduction] Part 1: From Captcha to Digitalizing the books

duolingo_owl

Duolingo is a startup that focus on language-learning. And it’s a nice one.

Being constructed by the founder of Re-captcha, Duolingo also shares the vision of utilizing the power of community to make the world better. So, before the story of Duolingo, I’ll tell you the tale about how  Luis von Ahn creates Recaptcha.

recaptcha-exampleHave you even registered in any website? Did you see little words that you must type to prove that you are not a auto-robot? “If you type the weird words in the images right, you may get in”. If you saw it, you know what a Captcha is. It’s a simple mechanism – based on the fact that no matter how far technology goes, it’s still nearly impossible for a machine to tell a bad writing from random images with thousands of senseless dots.

Ok, but have you ever asked yourself, why sometimes, you must type 2 words instead of 1?

The reason is simple. When Luis sees that we all must type Captchas everyday, he wants to make it more useful.  He told himself: we still have lots of books/ materials in paper form. If we scan them, they still be in pure image form – we won’t be able to search them like a text ebook. The current technology doesn’t allow machine to translate from image to text accurately. But what if people can help in the process?

So Recaptcha was born. Among 2 word-images Recaptcha gives you, it only knows exactly 1 word. If you type that word right, Recaptcha will recognize you as a human and let you in. And yes! Because you type one word right, the second word should be right too! You just translate an image to a word!

missing you

The result is that a lot of books in Google Scholar is digitalized that way.