What’s in a name?

Changing a company’s ‘look & feel’ is a tricky one anytime you decide to do it, but when you are one of the worlds most recognized brands it makes things slightly harder. Just ask the boys and girls over at GAP (and a few South African others) how badly it can go wrong!

So when Microsoft launched their new look and feel I felt like I did when I had my first car crash as a new driver. Eyes tightly shut too scared to look at the mutilation, then as I slowly opened them I tried to assess the damage while the world came into focus.

On first glance there doesn’t seem to be much change, except for the inclusion of the now famous multi-colored blocks (but whenever you think of MS you think of those in any case – well at least the stupid flaggy ones up until now!). They have sharpened the font a bit and modernized the symbol rather nicely. It’s plain and simple with nothing that you can really complain about.

Microsoft have never been the sexiest of brands (they possibly got that from their leader) so you can’t really blame them for staying firmly INSIDE the box on this one but I guess overall a decent modernization of what had become a parochial over played and over used icon and font.


They see me rollin, they hate it!

So, finally the greatest puzzle eluding mankind has been solved! Well kinda. If you own two iPads and you purchase a ‘Double’ set of wheels from Double Robotics you can now officially be two places at once.

I must admit on first looking at this video even the price tag of $1,999 if you pre-order ($2,499 otherwise), shipping in December, didn’t even deter me because the thought of being ‘this guy’ in a meeting in China just made me tingle all over!

Have a look!


Once I got over the initial early adopter tingles, I started to think about this a little! The point of being two places at once, certainly in my life, is that you can actively participate in two different scenarios simultaneously. This sadly doesn’t allow you to do that, reason being you will have a boardroom full of people gawking at your face on an iPad screen rolling around on wheels while you try to juggle a conference call and a few emails on the other end!

So it’s out for work sadly. So then I started to think about all the other glorious ways to use this. You could go to sporting events or concerts but then I realised that there’s no point in pseudo being there as all the joy is in actually being there. Then I thought maybe famous art exhibitions around the world or seeing great sites that you may not be able to get to. Again though I realised the internet can pretty much (along with Google Earth / Street view etc.) handle all of that.

So, prognosis?

Unless you feel like spending a bit of money to do nothing more than attend a board meeting down the hall from your office just so you can hear the crowd gasp as you literally roll in (preferably with the theme song ‘They see me rollin, they hate it” pumping out of your iPad) then I suggest you stick with video conferencing as you have done for the past few years.

Needless to say this tech is rather sexy and being able you use your iPad like a video game controller has got to be one of the more fun things do to in a mundane business day, well that and ‘accidentally’ the double robot into the women’s changing room at the gym!

The tasting menu to end all tasting menus!

I’m not sure why I have such a fetish for tasting menus, it may be because as GEN Y I need to be stimulated constantly and so am not satisfied merely with a few dishes but I need a million flavors floating around to be happy. It may also be that I enjoy having to punish myself in the gym constantly so I don’t start looking like Kobus Wiese – whatever the reason I try and do them as often as I can in as many countries as I can!

Living in Shanghai there is no shortage of world class menus – even the student restaurants produce things like this!

So when I had the opportunity to be in Oxford and to venture to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons I absolutely headed out to see what Raymond Blanc was up to!

Set in the most English of surroundings (Croquet and bowling greens along with countryside fill the view) the hotel and restaurant you cannot help but feel you are in for something special!

A few glasses of champaz to start in the sitting room, plus amuse bouche that looked like it was crafted by small culinary angels. They serve the menus and then you start to wonder how many courses you can fit into your body that day – the answer? The maximum menu of NINE!

Here we go . . .

Apparently in my excitement and Champagne haze i forgot to capture the first course!

Which was basically a deconstructed Bounty chocolate bar!

To go and make yourself a little more menu crazy go have a look at the rest of theirs and pics from a decent photographer!

Finally after a few glasses of champaz to start and a multitude of different glasses of wine to complement each course you can imagine the condition I was in. Fortunately if I needed to drive home I was quickly sobered up by the bill (excluding tip!)

The funniest moment though was when we got into the cab sufficiently drunk, full and content with enough decadence to last a few days, headed back to the Old Parsonage Hotel we realized that we left the hotel with zero cash and now could not pay our cab fare home. Fortunately a plan was quickly made but the thought of having to walk off nine courses on a two hour walk home was rather amusing!

Back in Shanghai now and back to semi-reality! Tomorrow night though is the next one – an entire meal inspired by coffee!

STM is hanging out next week . . .

So STM has decided that it’s been a while since the last break and while these inner city breaks and tasting menus are fine to stall the inevitable, this city does get a bit much! With all the time being dedicated to the move to Shanghai there has been little time to get away (well for more than a weekend that is) so a family wedding is the ideal excuse to sneak out for a week or so!

So if we are a little quiet xia xingqi (that means next week – soon we will be writing only in Manadarin Pinyin) you will know why!

First, a few days in Mayfair (which if you are going to London – I don’t care what anyone says – IS the best area to stay in London if you disagree just punch yourself in the face #thatsall) at the sensationail ATHENAEUM HOTEL with its famous ‘living wall’ by Ptrick Blanc . . .

Measuring 8 stories tall this vertical garden contains over 260 plant species and more than 12,000 individual plants. Patrick Blanc, a research scientist and artist designed the wall and plans to spread the notion that we don’t have to give up nature just because we live in cities.

Maybe a few trips to the SPA to unwind . . .

But without doubt one thing im looking forward to is the Afternoon tea, I just love the civility of it all!!

So onto more pressing business, land in Heathrow T5 quick hotel car to to the Athenaeum and into the shower, for the main reason of this trip is a little family wedding (and by little my family means a week of getting drunk and pushing our bodies to the limit!) and as with all great weddings come a great night out for the bachelor (this bachelor is far less sleaze and far more class) so here is the evening of London night ONE!

Dinner at the EPICALLY good Hakkasan in Mayfair (and I thought just to show you what I mean I’d insert a little menu sample!)

Click on it to see bigger (trust me you want to read this!)

Then onto BOUJIS which is famous for drunk royals and celebs stumbling out at all ungodly hours of the morning, something I hope to emulate this trip!

Here is a small taste of what these guys do . . .


Then, if I know my self as I do there will be the desperate need to prepare both my body and mind for the upcoming familial nuptuals. So in order to focus there must be a break from the city and a few days in the ‘old country’ of Oxford at the classic OLD PARSONAGE HOTEL . . .

I cannot express to you how excited I will be at this point to read a thousand English newspapers, sitting outside, and gently consuming glass after glass of Chardonnay (or sitting inside next to that stoked fire and doing the same with a few bottles of Merlot)

But most importantly one cannot just walk into a wedding on an unprepared liver , so three bookings at restaurants like LE MANOIR AUX QUAT ‘SAISONS have been secured just so my liver can absorb some decadence before its bombarded with all the brilliance this wedding will bring and all the damage that, while I know may not be good for me, I’m going to do it anyway! 

Then back into town for what should be an absolutely monstrous party and sadly a flight back to Shanghai the next day! Wish me luck – I assure you I will need it to survive. If you don’t hear from us for a few days at least now you know where we will be!

But enough about me, now that you are feeling a little vexed, know that i wish you only THIS for your week ahead!

A Range Rover without the class!

I LOVE the current Range Rover! I think it is everything the RR should be, big, boxy, chunky, dominating and most importantly with a hint of modern design (and by this I mean ‘old money’ modern not F&^%ING ugly ‘nouveau riche’ modern)

This is what a Rangerover is supposed to look like!

Now, I guess you are wondering how my argument stands up against the Evoque?

Well quite simply I love it – yes yes I hear you crying about hypocrisy, let me explain!

The Evoque was a trial, a test of a new market segment and a temporary vertical integration of a brand to see if it could be stretched, and it worked, superbly well! The Evoque pushed the boundaries of RRs design capability much like a concept car does (but thankfully RR stuck to their original concept like most never do) and it allowed RR to test how far they could go with the bigger Ranges.

So MUCH to my excitement I was expecting a more toned down, bigger version of the Evoque (with perhaps a slight hint of the stellar Discovery 4) and when I heard the new RR was to be revealed I could barely contain myself. I could already picture it in my head, feel it in my fingers and hear the credit card swipe through the dealers machine – they had sold me on a Range just by launching the Evoque, and then they F&^%ING went and did THIS!!

Now I’ll give you it’s interior is nice and elegant but really THAT.IS.ALL! The front lights and grill are based around the epically crap Land Rover Freelander instead of taken from the old RR or the Disco 4! The side vents, which on the old RR looked sleek and cool, now look like someone has been using a meccano set and the way the front and back lights extend into the body look like a complete design fail (while on the Evoque they suited the style) and the rest of the body is almost identical to its predecessor.

Range Rover you have let me down horrifically and you have without doubt lost a sale! I absolutely agree the old version has become outdated hence my excitement to see the evolution into the new one but I’m sad to say that it has the lost style, class and that hint of superiority that the current one has.

Shame on all of you!

If you are DUMB ENOUGH to want to see more – HERE is the gallery but do not say i didn’t warn you!

The UNITED preview . . .

Let me first say how outrageously excited I am for the new season!!

Suffice to say I think I was the first person to order the new home kit and have placed and order for the away kit!

I even went to go watch United’s C team in action in Shanghai just to warm up and to get a quick look at the new boys!

Now if you’re a football fan, settle in, this is going to be a long one! What is my view of My United this season?

So first to the big things, yes Robin Van Persie is signed sealed and you have the tracking number for his delivery. Does this transfer make me happy, in theory yes. In practice I think that its a lot of money for a guy who possibly peaked at the end of last season. He was majestic and magical last year and I just don’t think he can get close (and that’s if he somehow manages to stay injury free).

In fact I’d go as far as to say that the return of Nemanja Vidic is more important to Uniteds trophy hunt than the signing of RVP. Having said that he is tremendously talented and lets be fair we need someone to chip in with a few goals!

So up front we have Wayne Rooney, who if we are honest has not hit quite the heights everyone has hoped. He is, for me, the hardest worker in this side and embodies what it is to be a United player but as good as he gets (and he has been magnificent in recent times) his talent promises to exceed superlatives and I’m not sure we have seen that from him just yet, certainly not consistently! I think this season with RVP, as a partner, may just be that one!

Then as cover we have Danny Welbeck who seems to get better and better every year, I cant imagine he is too happy about the RVP deal, and the Little Pea who showed so much promise in his first season but since then hasn’t really fulfilled all expectations – I have no doubt he too will be back this season and show his worth.

Bebe and Macheda both wait in the wings but unless they score more goals in the mid week fixtures than RVP did last year I don’t think they will get much of a look-in, unless of course RVP gets injured, as he does. Although Bebe and Macheda (to a lesser degree) impressed on tour (more than they have before which isn’t too tough) there is plenty of cover upfront! Berbie is another stuck in the United wilderness and even though I think he is probably the most naturally talented out of ALL of them, his slightly slack sometimes lazy approach has left him, possibly unfairly, out in the cold. Where he will fit in this season? Your guess is as good as mine. Oh yes, and then there’s Michael Owen – no comment (but he was really good a decade ago!)

It almost feels like the Springbok selectors trying to choose loose forwards, two spots and a million talents! We really should have NO issues scoring goals this season, unless . . .

Midfield remains a problem! We have not managed to sign anything really of significance except for the only-just post pubescent Nick Powell. I have seen barely anything of him except him missing an absolute sitter in Shanghai so I shall reserve judgment. The other mid field purchase Shinji Kagawa looks fast, slick and focused. The Ji Sung Park version 2.0 if you will. I am very excited to see what he can do combined with some youth and experience around him.

On the wings, depending on form Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia as well as Nani can all be devastatingly good on their day and very average off it – Valencia probably has the slight edge here as he has been more consistent than the other two. Thankfully the ever green (yes I know its horribly clichéd) Ryan Giggs is sticking around for another year and his influence on the team as well as on the pitch is absolutely invaluable! He is simply a class above the rest and always has been but his ability to evolve his game to suite his aging legs has been exceptional!

In the center of midfield there are the injury prone Tom Cleverly and Anderson who started last season like Xavi and Iniesta. My bold pick of the year is that these two stay fit and hit their best hurling United clear at the top of the table come mid-season. They are, for me, two of United’s biggest talents and if they click like they did in the first few games of last season, we could be in for something stellar! I unfortunately think they will not only not be at 100% the whole season and they won’t get the game time needed to get there with players like Shinji and my all-time favorite Paul Scholes around and about.

Scholes can pass and strike a football like no man on the planet, he has a football brain designed by the gods and he can execute like a sniper, he is a true United legend and again he may have aged but as soon as he re-entered the United fold last year he assumed complete control of the midfield.

So again, on paper we should have enough talented cover to either hold and press, out right attack or defend the midfield with absolutely no problem, on paper that is!

So where do I think our Achilles heal may lie, right here in defense!

With Michael Carrick (I call him the most boring footballer in the world) having filled in for most of the pre-season tour in defense our troubles have started early this season! Like last season we may be make shifting the back four for the better part of 20 games with already Evans, Jones and Smalling all out injured and with Rio looking sort of like a pensioner with a Zimmer frame and Patrice Evra, who I have rated as one of the best fullbacks in the game over the last 5 or 6 years, seriously starting to struggle, I’m a little concerned to say the least.

I don’t even think Nemanja ‘Chuck Norris’ Vidic can hold this defense together.

If Evans and Smalling come right we should be OK as both have shown they have come a very long way over the last 18 months but I still do not feel close to as comfortable as I have with pairings like Bruce and Pallister and Rio and Vidic of a few seasons ago. Even Wes Brown and John O’Shea felt a little more stable! Jones on the other hand I think will develop into a world class defender or midfielder even, but again he needs to stay on the pitch long enough to do so.

It looks as if a lot of responsibility will be put on the young shoulders of Rafael who I hope has been whipped into shape over the pre-season. Last year he was too cocky, too rambunctious and was caught out of position making stupid decisions far too often. He is young and he must be given some time and leeway but at this level that is sadly not going to happen!

There is not much more to say about Vidic other than he is world class, his absence quite possible cost United at least one trophy last season and his reintroduction will rejuvenate the defense. He has more heart than most complete football teams and the fact that he was injured last season may just mean that he remains at United instead of being the target of big money from around the world! Even with a limping Rio they are a great defensive unit but I still believe that we will see a new United central defensive partnership emerge this year and one for the ages. I have a very funny feeling Carrick in central defense may just be a stroke of genius!

Between the sticks I feel progressively more confident with De Gea even though he looks like he stuck pubic hair to his chin. He has grown and continues to grow as a United keeper which at his young age must be seriously tough to handle. He is also being pushed a very talented Lindegaard and I think between them they will keep a solid session in goal this year, especially if we can guarantee a slightly more stable back four!

So that’s the entire team. What do I think of the season ahead, the ups and downs and the many many games to come and many trophies to be potentially won?

I think if MOST importantly this teams stays relatively injury free they will get very close to winning the league. City are of course very strong and Chelsea remain a great threat, especially because I think Torres will have a blinder season. Arsenal are never to be written off and Liverpool are a wild card under new management. I do however have a very strong feeling barring injury and without getting cocky that United may just have a monster season and win by 5 or 6 clear points!

The FA cup is always a gamble and can never be predicted, if we get to the latter rounds we should make it at least to the semis and then its anyone’s game from there. The league cup is not a priority but depending on how the season goes it may be that we start saying ‘a trophy is a trophy’. If we do though I fear there is SERIOUS cause for alarm. Again like the FA Cup but not as precious, we will try get to the later rounds and then see. With the amount of talent we have though we should have no problem getting through the early stages with a second string team.

Now the big one, the Champions League. We should make it to the quarters and then depending on the draw we will have to see. I think though we have enough experience to get through almost anyone and then the semis will be tough. If Alex stops playing the very flat defensive pattern in the CH league that i feel cost us the last few years I think with the strike power we have we will get a long way to lifting the trophy.

So all there is left to say is bring on the new season and COOOOMMMMEEE ONNNNN UNNNIIIITTEEEDDD!

This could even get me inside!

The best thing in the world for me is when someone takes something boring, old and stayed and repackages it in a new way. It doesn’t have to even be an appealing way to me but the fact that someone has taken something we are so used to and recreated it is enough for us to applaud.

So don’t get me wrong, I’m a tablet guy, I like to read my books in no other form than electronic (magazines different story). I don’t want to hear your, ‘it’s the feel of the book, smell of the book’ crap. Electronic wins in every way, sorry! Now added to the fact that I’ve never liked libraries to begin with, I’m not sure if I had a scarring experience as a child (unlike porn most of my librarians were very ugly!) but whatever the reason is, I truly hate going into libraries. I don’t like the way they smell, the seats are always uncomfortable and if I hear a person mutter Dewy F^%$ing Decimal system I want to stab them with a pencil.

Got the picture? Here’s the exception . . .

Now having said all that if I were to live in the small town of Maastricht in the Netherlands and I  had the genius architects from Merkx & Girod taking over 13th Century gothic churches to build libraries, I would be in there every day!

These guys have taken this library to the absolute next level and they really deserve the most amazing credit – just have a look!

“The disorientation visitors encounter upon entering the contemporary building in the Netherlands is likely atavic in nature. The building that houses the store is in fact a Gothic church consecrated in 1294 by the Order of Predicators founded by St. Dominic. The church has not hosted a religious function since 1794, when the church was confiscated by Napoleon’s army for military purposes. Since then, the space has been used as a town archive, warehouse and even an inglorious site for bike storage. In 2005, Boekhandels Groep Nederland (BGN) decided to give new life to the building by transforming it into what is now one of the world’s most incredible bookstores.
The interior design creates retail space by taking advantage of the spatial magnificence of the church’s architecture. To satisfy BGN’s need for 1,200 m2 of selling space and given that the church’s floor area is of only 750 m2, Evelyn Merkx and Patrice Girod thought to insert an over-sized walk-in bookcase. The two upper levels therefore compensate for the lack of surface area, enabling the transversal use of space.”

“The imposing bookcase created by Keijsers Interior Projects is positioned on the right side of the building, between the central and lateral naves, and encompasses the stone columns. A series of stairs lead visitors up the black steel walk-in bookcase, providing an up close and personal view of the vaults of the nave, enthralling them with a nearsighted view of the frescoes and revealing an unknown perspective. In stark contrast, the left side of the church retains the original height of the building with low tables placed parallel to the central nave as if to lead the visitor toward a sort of hypothetical altar. The left nave features low, horizontal tables and vertical book shelves along the walls to create thematic islands separated by the steady rhythm of the columns. The lighting, which is an all but integral part of the store’s design, manifests itself in the chorus by way of a traditional chandelier above the crucifix-shaped table located in the café area. Here, with the left side housing the bar area, a series of tables, poufs and armchairs mimic the curved line of the chorus to a raised platform”



Does sport save patriotism?!

I haven’t been very patriotic lately. It may be the fact that I’m living so far from home that every time I smell anything resembling a braai I try and lick the air, or it could be the fact that when you are outside the snow globe you can actually see how dirty it is and it makes you sad.

Either way I haven’t been particularly kind in my writing about SA lately. The truth I think ist because I really feel sometimes there is very little to be proud of and even that seems to be slipping away quite quickly.

Enter the Olympic games . . .

Now I guess skepticism fills me during these occasions (probably more the fact that I want to pre-empt the disappointment of what I’m used to seeing from South African Olympians generally) but when I saw South Africa walk proudly into that stadium I couldn’t help but cry.

You see we are a nation that sends our men and women off with vuvuzelas! We are a nation who gets to the Olympic village and makes sure that there are enough flags for every man women and child in Britain to see!

We are a nation of fighters, we are a nation of being written off and coming back to kick Michael Phelps’s ass to the finish line!

We are a nation who are missing both legs and when they tell us we cannot compete we fight them in the board rooms and court rooms until we get our shot to compete as an equal and we make the world fall in love with us!

We are a nation of women who are mocked and ridiculed about their sexuality in every circle both nationally and internationally and we keep composed and quite because on day we will lead our nation into an Olympic arena!

We are a nation who were once told blacks and whites would never co-exist let alone rely on each others every stroke to win gold one day!

We are Chad LE Clos’s father talking about his beautiful boytjie! We let our emotions gush because we are a nationa that loves and lives passionately for each other!


We are a proud and honorable nation, one you dare not discount or disregard for we will make you eat those words one way or another! South Africa made me very proud this Olympics and very heart sore. I’m sure very few of you know what it feels like to be in a very foreign place (one where your home country actually doesn’t even exist on the map for most locals), the truth is when you know the feeling of every one back home, you know they are having a braai and a beer and cheering on our athletes whether they have no chance in hell or whether they are medal winners, those are the moments you miss the most!

South Africa made me proud these Olympics because they reminded me why I love this country so much, because it’s the under dog, because it fights and because it is eternally hopeful of itself and its people. Those traits are the ones we often forget and those are the ones that make me so proud of our nation.

Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika

Farewell London 2012 . . .

Yes I know they are not done (and Caster still has to run her  final) but we’re sure as hell not going to spend this weekend posting about it!

So we decided its maybe important to have a little fun send off to this year’s epic games in London!

In STM style this is about the fun, the silly, the sexy and the cool (basically everything besides who won anything!)

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

Sorry and just a little touch of Michael Jackson synchro swimming to finish it all off!



Music for the Instagram generation!

I’m trying to work out why I like this music video so much?

I mean the song is pretty good but I don’t even think I would listen to it without the video. The truth is I get bombarded (mostly self-inflicted) with so many images on a daily basis that I think I need to be over stimulated, visually, in order to actually be interested. I have to have a million windows open with Tweet deck streaming in the back ground and the ability to toggle between email, private and personal, web pages and anything sent or received while watching a presentation . . . that’s how I like to live my work day.

This video allows your brain just enough time to process the image before it takes it away and I just love how it continually keeps me engaged (plus the fact that it’s so intagram-filter-saturated that every single pic looks exceptionally fun just adds to it! Yes yes and okay the song is pretty damn cool!)



Prettier than most Italians . . .

You can be forgiven for thinking ,when a Polish car manufacturer releases designs like these and says they are going to build a super-car, that they are slightly out of their depth.

I suppose thinking the Poles could design a super-car to rival the great houses of Italy is laughable but low and behold they seem to have done just that. The HUSSARYA made by the manufacturer ARRINERA looks to be lighter and faster than the Lambo Gallardo LP560-4 and has a few more sexy gadgets, things like thermal imaging for those foggy nights of street racing.

Either way if they can design something that looks as sexy as this on the road – they have my pre-order!

(no you idiot this is not a pink car with orange interior)

For all the accurate specs GO HERE! For all the fun details of how this thing made it from sketch to prototype (which is seriously badass itself) into manufacturing phase GO HERE! The good news is we should be able to climb into one of these things fairly soon with production scheduled to start early next year.

For now though you will have to be content with this little teaser!


What are the Olympics for if not to push the bounds of human ability?

I stumbled across this video of USAIN BOLT vs 116 YEARS of the 100m and as interesting as it is, after watching this video I started thinking . . .


You see I don’t get massively excited by the Olympics generally, I guess it’s because I’m consistently underwhelmed by South Africa’s achievements over the years (yes we won a few gold’s but come on, surely we should have more of an impact!) . I mean I watch the usual opening and closing and a few other events depending on who’s in them but mainly I’m in it for the highlights.

Things like . . .

Then maybe a few funnies . . .

Or a little bit of skin . . . 

But this video really got me wondering what is so fascinating about it all. You see the Olympics are the biggest stage in the world of combined sports. It is the best place for athletes to showcase themselves and so every effort in training, nutrition, gear and technology is focused on pushing the limits here.

In short it is the pinnacle of human performance and therefor the premier event to advance human ability.

This video shows just how incredibly the performance of the 100m has improved over time. It shows that, if nothing else, whenever you hear anyone say, “They will never beat . . . “you should slap them in the face and HARD! Humans will continue to develop as they have over the last 100 years and Usain Bolt is merely one point in time of that evolution. Granted he is one majestic stride forward but one step in the process never the less.

I guess I’ve realized that the Olympics is more than the hype, the medals and the sponsors, it is our best way of ensuring that we as a species continue to move forward in at least one sphere.

A little GIFt for you on this Friday!

It’s been perfect blue skies in Shanghai this week and today I got an email to say, literally, put all your shit inside, hide your animals and if you work, pretend you are sick – there is some chaos coming (by chaos they mean heavy rain with a bit of wind – there seems to be some unnecessary panic about here)

But in the spirit of the end of the world I thought if we didn’t make it post again then our last post should reflect the good taste, lack of seriousness and all round aesthetically pleasant beauty of the world out there!


Enjoy and have fun this weekend – we’re off to fight a storm (if we ever see it that is)!