Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘buenos aires

South to North

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I’m back in the Estados Unidos after a productive and enjoyable trip to Argentina.

What did I learn while I was there?

One, the sun is very powerful in South America.  I spent my last afternoon there to take a quick tour on one of those turistico buses (highly recommend, especially if you’re short on time).

You know, the kind with no tops on them, where the sun can shine right down on your head and forehead?

Yeah.  Estupido turista.

Two, I learned that while the social media is alive and well in Latin America, I would suggest based on my observations and discussions with our teams there that its use is a little more tepid and cautious in Latin America, particularly within business.

Personally, particularly with sites like Orkut and Twitter, there’s substantial and widespread use, but the business uptake is slower than other parts of the world.

Three, the Internet communications and marketing opportunity is much more substantial in the mobile space than in the land-line Internet (that is, if you’re interested in raw numbers).

By way of example, EMarketer’s “Digital Atlas,” which I consulted before I headed south, reveals that Internet users in Brazil last numbered around 67M, while mobile phone users were in the range of 150M.

Similar disparities between mobile and landline access exist in other countries in Latin America as well, including Mexico and Argentina.

Four, I reaffirmed how much it sucks to get sick while traveling abroad.  But, as mentioned in this blog, I was fortunate to be able to head over to Dr. IBM right there on the site to get some medicine to stave off the nastiness.

Here I am, a week later, still illin’, but I was very thankful to stave off the illness while on the ground there.

Five, I learned that it is possible to get a full night’s sleep in economy class, particularly with the help of some other medicine (in my case, doctor-prescribed sleeping pills).

In fact, such sleep can make all the difference in the world (although admittedly, it’s easier when you’re not jumping so many time zones).

Personally, I don’t mind so much the long flights, but in coach they can be quite painful if you have legs longer than 2 feet, so the ability to totally sack out can help put about 70% of the time on the plane into unconsciousness, which is the perfect way to shorten the plane ride.

(As for you people who stay awake for the duration of 10-13 hour flights, you may want to check to see if you’re related to some of the characters on “True Blood” [vampires].  I don’t know how you do it.)

Six, I can’t or don’t keep up with what’s going on in the world very well when I’m on the road.

Despite having a BlackBerry that lives up to its promise as a “world phone” (Since I got it in January, it HAS worked in every city I’ve been to around the globe), one simply doesn’t have much free time to check in and keep up when you’re bouncing from one meeting or dinner to another.

The whole point of making these trips is to meet one’s colleagues on the ground and spend quality time, so that’s the priority.

So, I’m still playing catch up on the news flow (email and otherwise).

Seven, I still love my Nikon CoolPix camera and my FlipVideo camera…both allowed me to easily (and very portably) capture sights and sounds from the journey without having to lug around a lot of equipment.

Eight, I can’t wait for the World Cup next summer.  I really enjoyed being around a bunch of honest-to-God futbol fans, and my excursion to see the Boca Juniors play Arsenal was a highlight of my trip.

If anybody needs a blogger to cover next summer’s World Cup, I’m so on that plane to Johannesburg…business, coach, or even luggage class.

And nine, regarding my iPod Touch: I don’t leave the country without it.

Since I got the “touch,” it has become my best friend while traveling.  I now download books, games, music, podcasts, and even movies to carry with me on the road and to help pass the time, to Tweet, to read, to chill…it’s one of the first things I pack just to make sure I don’t forget it.

All that said, it’s nice to be back in Austin in time for the Thanksgiving holiday and a whole meal of American football.

Written by turbotodd

November 24, 2009 at 1:41 pm

The Argentinian Bohemian Rhapsody

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I am feeling mucho better in Buenos Aires.

So much so that I ended up at the Kilkenny Pub with mi amigos last evening near the central business district.  I’ll come back to that.

First, let me just say muchas gracias to the IBM doctor who diagnosed me and prescribed me with some magic pills.

Anybody who has traveled on international business can attest to the fact that getting sick while abroad is pretty much one of the suckiest things that can happen to you (that, and losing your passport).

But, to my good fortune, IBM Argentina had a doctor on the premises and helped me get much better very quickly.

Time on the ground on these journeys is precious, particularly the face time with your colleagues.  It’s really the most precious thing we have, and after having to miss one team dinner Tuesday evening I wasn’t about to miss another.

So, after a long and productive day of meetings and discussions (the content of which I won’t be revealing — to the chagrin, I’m sure, of our competitors), my Latin American and HQ colleagues headed out for some dinner.

We ended the evening at the Kilkenny Pub which, I’m also sure, one must find quite absurd.

The quest to go to an Irish Pub while near the bottom of South America became a mandate when my Canadian colleague Dave was astounded at the fact I’d never had a Kilkenny beer.

I’ve been a lot of places and I’ve drank a lot of different kinds of beer, but guilty as charged, I’d never had a Kilkenny.

Mi new Argentinian amigo Pedro knew just the place, so after a late dinner we set out there.

Pedro explained why, exactly, it was that Argentina had a plethora of English-type pubs, and the explanation is, simply in a singular word, globalization.

When the Argentinian economy started to grow and as more foreign companies moved in, the English pubs came with.

The best part of the story, however, is arriving at the Kilkenny Pub only to discover…DOH!…they had run out of Kilkenny.

Does globalization explain that one?

Perhaps not, but having no Kilkenny didn’t keep Pedro from an hilarious public display of affection for the Rolling Stones, as he demoed his painfully home-made “Tattoo You” lips tattoo for the troops gathered around our booth before Dave led us in an unharmonious but team-building rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

A la table, there were: 2 Americans, 1 Brazilian, 1 Canadian, 1 Mexican, 1 Argentinian…and a wandering Russian troubadour who heard the commotion and stopped by our table to help us finish out the tune:

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the Fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me
(Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo, Galileo Figaro
I’m just a poor boy nobody loves me
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity —
Freddie Mercury, Queen

Though Freddie Mercury may not likely have been proud of the singing, I think he would have approved of the enthusiasm and fellowship.

Si, there have definitely been some ups and downs and bumps along the road to globalization.

But in the midst of all the pain and disruption it has caused along the way, there are equally filled moments of human synchronization and serendipity and the slow unveiling of a global connective tissue that can help stifle all the pain and disruption — and in the process reveal our underlying grace and collective humanity.

Such was a moment last night here in Buenos Aires, at least for me anyhow.

And seriously, don’t cry for me, Argentina.

I’m laughing all the way to the bank with tangoing Tattoo You Lips!

Written by turbotodd

November 19, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Soy Enfermo

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Soy infirmada en Buenos Aires.

It’s inevitable when you travel for business you’re gonna get sick, although I try to avoid it like the plague.

Otherwise, my time in Buenos Aires has been quite bueno so far (including the soccer match), and fortunately so far I’ve not been hindered by the apparent global BlackBerry outage.

Of course, if you’re a Lotus Symphony user, there’s always this new mobile solution, which provides for a portable version of Symphony that can be used in Keepod USB devices.

The new tool lets users launch Symphony directly from the USB device without leaving a trace of the data, or the application, on the host computer.

As for me, if I’m not feeling better soon, I’m hopeful that my IBM Research friends can help me with my malady.

ZDnet’s “Between the Lines” blog is reporting that IBM Research created a new and fast medical diagnostic testing system that’s based on a silicon chip, which uses small samples to test for multiple diseases.

The implications of the research are substantial, and the results are being published in the December issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Meanwhile, muchas gracias to mi amigo Koran here in Buenos Aires for the Claritin D — here’s hoping I Live Claritin Clear for the next few days!

Written by turbotodd

November 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm


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Greetings from the Paris of the South.

Buenos Aires, that is.  I landed here yesterday morning and though I’ve been on the ground right at 24 hours, I’ve already fallen in love with the place.

I was told this would be the case, but like any futile love, I resisted for as long as I could hold out but just didn’t have the willpower to resist.

I’m not here on vacation, but I did come in a day early to make the inevitable breakup that much harder.

As is my custom in cities I’ve never visited before, I went for a long walk to help fend off sleeplessness from the plane and jet lag, and found myself yesterday afternoon at the huge Sunday flea market on Defensa, a street right near my hotel.

Though not much of a shopper, the scenery on Defensa on a Sunday is not unlike that which you would see Washington Square Park on a weekend, only it’s on a street instead of a square.

I even saw a man without a head who apparently made his living having his picture taken with turistas like myself.

Hard times.

My real order of business for day one of my new love affair was to attend my first ever South American soccer (futbol) match.

I knew the joke was on me the moment I met my new friend, Tony, on the circus tour bus which almost didn’t get us to the game.

Tony, who hails from London, is a lifelong Arsenal (the one from the Premiere League) ticketholder, and who himself played in an amateur Sunday league until he was 38:

“What’s an American doing going to a soccer match?” he asked incredulously.

Ha ha ha.

Well, Tony, there are a few of we U.S. Americans hho graduate from soccer mom-dom to become actual fans of the beautiful game.

Describing the Buenos Aires game experience itself requires a whole other post to do it total justice (including the getting to the game, which is half the story).

Me, I was just worried about wearing the wrong colors and already trying to figure out in advance how to explain to my mom that she would need to contact the American embassy to get me out of jail for choosing the wrong color shirt.

But as fate would have it, I ended up wearing pretty neutral colors, until I found myself in the home stand (separated by glass and steel barriers from the “away” side…that, and concertina wire), in which case my side was chosen for me: Arsenal all the way, baby.

I have to go get some work done in advance of my meetings, but to whet your appetite for a more descriptive post about my first foreign futbol experience (other than the telly), let me just include the quick video byte below.

Hint: Focus on the sound.  This was before the game had even started, as the riot police made their way onto the field (a purely offensive play on their part).

After this experience, I’ll just say this: American sports fans have no clue what real fandom is.

This small stadium of probably no more than 20K fans made more noise, more continuously, with more passion and enthusiasm, than all the American sporting events I’ve attended in my lifetime.

I’ve definitely fallen in love.

Written by turbotodd

November 16, 2009 at 1:53 pm

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