How to Tell if Someone Block You on MSN Messenger

Due to the privacy improvement of Microsoft on MSN Messenger, it seems definitely impossible to have a tool to check whether someone blocked you, or he/she is always offline. Many people claim they have MSN block checker. Unfortunately, they are useless, if the privacy setting is turned on (the default). It is very unlikely the person you want to check has changed the setting.

The only way I can think of is to call some friends (who also on that person’s contact list) and see if the status of the person is the same. If he/she appears offline on your MSN Contact List, but online on the other, you must be blocked by that person.

If you don’t have this kind of friend, or you don’t want others to know what you want to know, just create a new MSN account, and sign in MSN Messenger. Then send an invitation to that person until he/she add you. Then compare the status.

However, Try Your Luck!

I do have a tool that can help you to try your luck. Although only once out of ten times of try may turn out to show you the right result (when your friend did turn the privacy setting off), if you are feeling lucky, give it a try:

Try Your Luck and See if You can Check Whether You are Banned

Updated April 8, 2008

There is a technique to check whether you are block by your MSN contact. However, this technique has a very limited usage senario:

  • The person you want to check has a Microsoft Live Spaces Blog (previous MSN Spaces Page)
  • The person also set the setting to “Only allow access to Messenger contact”.

If the above are all true, you can try to visit that person’s Live Spaces Blog. If you can access it, although the person may seem offline, you are not blocked. If you cannot see the space blog, you are for sure blocked.

As I said, there are no other good way to do it so far.

Posted in MSN

Tulip Sleeps in my Garden

After the Art of Travel, another book I am seriously reading these weeks are:

The Botany of Desire, a plant’s-eye view of the world

It is a book about plant’s world. Very interesting and help us to be more clear about the human being’s role in the world.

In the book, the author Pollan talked about four plants in four chapters

Apple, Tulip, Potato and Marijuana

They were taken as example of how the Botany of Desire of plants guided human’s behavior.

So……

I think Nov is just the right time to plant Tulip. We went to the flower and plants market at the Long Yang Road Metro Station (just about 200 meters south of the station), and got some roots of Tulip. I carefully put them into the soil and keep my finger crossed for good luck of the Tulips.

Hopefully, next Feb, they will grow up and have followers. I hope to share the picture of the Tulips in my garden about 4 months later.

To plant something is a pleasant experience. It brings me closer to the nature, and it helps me to learn planning better. Everything is going on so quickly, and becoming quicker and quicker, thus gives us the wrong image that we can speed up a lot of things. Plants and flowers are there to remind us silently, and gracefully that there are many things that you must be patient about. If I want nice flower next spring, I have to plant it now. If I want to get good business or personal life result, I need to plant now.

Now when I am writing my personal life plan and business plan, I take my 17 little Tulip as a compass and measure. Just as I discussed before, Pressure is About Expectation, when we set the right expectation, there is really not too much pressure on me about my Tulips – no matter how hard I work, they will not show the flower earlier. :-D

P.S. Tulip pictures on flickr.

P.S. 2: There are some controversial comments in my previous discussion about BBC’s interview. Open and honest discussion is good, and is always welcome.

What a pity that anyone of us can only see part of the world, no matter how hard we try, and how wise we are. We are all the blind men in the “blind men and the elephant” story. Our view changes depending on our experiences. It just always changes. So keep open mind and don’t argue too agressively for something we “currently” “think” is right.

Can anyone can claim that their point of view never change in the last three years? Personally, I changed a lot. You will see the conflicting posts in my past three years of blogging. For example, I was a strong supporter of road sign numbering system in Shanghai, but changed my mind after one year. I strongly disagreed with the rule to ban beggars in Metro system, but changed my mind one year later. So if anyone didn’t change their mind in the last three years, then close your ears and only open your mouth. Otherwise, the debate is often something between you and another you after three years, or you and yourself three years ago. It is more likely everyone’s view is a honest reflection of the real world, but only part of the world. I encourage open communication but not personal attack. It is always the rule on this blog for both sides of the discussion.

Running Around Century Park

On my list, there is one more item I would list under “the reason to love Shanghai”, because there is a great park called Century Park that we can run arround it at night, and there is a small gathering at 7:30 PM every Tuesdcay that many friends will run around the Century Park together. I am just back from tonight’s event. It was nice.

About the Activity

Geoffrey started the actitive about one year before, in Oct 2005. Every Tuesday, some young people will gather at the Gate 7 of the Century Park at 7:30 PM to start the 5km around park running. They have a website called yiqipao.com, which means “Run Together” in Chinese.

I spent about 30 minutes to run all the way back. Some are back within 20 minutes, and more are within 50 minutes.

Century Park Route May be the Best Route

I have no idea about whether there is a better running route in Shanghai other than this one. There is no single red light or cross road on the 5 km of route, and the route is besides green trees on one side. The length is also just right.

map-yiqipao.png

The right line is the route and the yellow dot is the starting and ending point – the No.7 Gate of the park. You can arrive there by taking Metro Line #2 to the Century Park Station, exit at Exit No. 4, turn left after you leave the Exit, and go straght ahead to cross the wider road (the Hua Mu Road). There should be lots of people there.

Keep Running, Keep Health

I checked my weight today. Unfortunately, I am almost 70 kg now. Let me see if I can stick to run for some time and see if I can lose weight a little bit.

Keep Passion for Life

Shanghai sometimes seems disappointing in our everyday life. Just like any city seems to be to its fellow residents. But at the same time, the same boring Tuesday, the same boring night, some cheerful people are running on the 5 km path in the peaceful night. Some comes from nearby neighborhood, some even from the Zhong Shan Park, which is the other side of the city, but everyone enjoys the running so much.

Nobody said “No” to you when you want to run. The only one who holds us back is ourselves.

On the last page, actually, the second last paragraph of the Art of Travel, Alan quoted Friedrich Nietzsche:

When we observe how some people know how to manage their experiences – their insignificant, everyday experiences – so that they become an arable soil that bears fruit three times a year, while others – and how many there are! – are driven through surging waves of destiny the most multifarious currents of the times and the nations, and yet always remain on top, bobbing like a cork, then we are in the end tempted to divide (human-)kind into a minority (a minimality) of those who know how to make much of little, and a majority of those who know how to make little of much.

How true it is.

P.S. Some pictures from the dinner after the running event. They have AA dinners every Tuesday, and it is free for first time comers.

More pictures are here. I didn’t check permission to use the picture one by one yet, so feel free to drop me a line if anyone thinks not comfortable to share the pictures.

BBC’s Interview

9:00 PM, my mobile rings. It was from +1915xxxxx, an American number. I picked up the phone and a girl with British tone asked if I am “Wang Jian Shuo”. Actually she called from London, a reporter for BBC. She asked about the China Blogger Conference which was just held this weekend. Questions were: “What is the aim of the conference and what is the key take-aways from the conference┬ů” I answered with what I think is right.

Not surprisingly, she asked about censorship again. I have formed a formula that BBC interview = censorship question interview.

The Last Time

I was interviewed by BBC less than one month ago. The reporter (actually a good friend of my friend) arrived in Shanghai and discussed a lot of things during the interview with a big microphone. We talked lots of topics from blogging to the China society. I guess the interview continued for about half an hour. Within the interview, he asked about the censorship of blogging in China. I don’t want to comment on this since I have my own view on this. So I said: “I don’t want to comment on this”.

Several days later, the radio program was broadcasted to the world. It is a program around censorship. The only thing with my name in the radio was “No comment”. The program sounded like this (I don’t remember the exact terms though): Many bloggers faced the pressure of the censorship. Chinese blogger, Jian Shuo Wang even don’t want to talk about it. (Original recording): “What do you think of the censorship of the blogging world in China?” “I don’t want to comment on this”. (end of the recording). The program continued to anther person.

Dan Washburn, the experienced reporter from TIME told me, everything is “on the record” in western media. If you don’t want to say something, don’t mention it at all. It appears even “Not to mention” does express something.

Actually, I am not comfortable that my words were taken out of the context to support another view that I don’t agree.

Do You Want to Be on Air?

The organizer of the China Blogger Conference, Isaac Mao, also has the experience with BBC. Last time, when he was driving on the high way, BBC called and told him that it was LIVE broadcasting and want to interview him. He pulled his car over to the emergency lane and talked about some time. Isaac admitted that it was too rush for him. Obviously an live broadcasting from BBC was not a pleasant surprise:.

The reporter who called me asked whether I can speak on the LIVE program for BBC this evening London time. She was preparing the issue to be broadcast tonight at 6:45 AM London time. The topic will be the China Blogger Conference. I am pretty sure the topic will be around censorship again. I think the time is just too early for me. It is so easy to convert Greenwich Mean Time to Shanghai time, since one is GMT +0 and Shanghai is GMT +8. So I said I prefer to have a better sleep other than wake up at 4:00 AM in the morning. The other reason is, just as the previous interview, I was not 100% comfortable when I am approached with a pre-defined conclusion and my role is just to be an evidence to support the idea. That is neither interesting nor meaningful.

The Gap? The Communication?

The problem I see besides the two worlds are, there are too many pre-defined questions like censorship and BBC is trying to find piece of information, filter it and create an exciting picture for people in the “civilized” world. I do believe in two-way communication, that real life is seen by the world. As everyone can see, there is not much censorship on this blog and I can talk the topic I choose to talk about.

One of the topics on the China Blogger Conference was very interesting. It talked about eliminating the gap between two conflicting culture/countries/regions by sharing ideas with blogging. Bloggers in India and Pakistan already did it. Bloggers from China and Japan are doing so, based on what I heard. Bloggers from both sides of the Taiwan Strait are joining hand to analyze the gap of understanding. These may be better effort than BBC’s report.

Disclaimer: This is only based on the limited experience I had with BBC and may not reflect the reality. Keep in mind that misunderstanding happens all the time, from father and son, husband and wife, to people from two different cultures. I appreciate if someone can point out the reason of the misunderstanding I have (if it is).

Update November 10, 2005

Ops. I didn’t check out this post after the whole day and when I am back, I found a lot of people have gathered here. So welcome, everyone. Have a great day, or night or morning here (depending on where you are located).

I admit that I was misleading in my previous post. It is for sure that there is censorship in China. Everyone inside or ourside China sees it. The GFW is upgrading, sites are taken down, and blogging services are censoring some keywords, and I feel the pressure to talk on certain sensitive topics. To disagree on the way BBC reports does not mean I think there is no censorship in China.

Censorship is a tough topic to discuss. I have been reporting this issue since three years ago. I roughly counted that there should be tens of entries on this blog. I made a small note when blogbus and other BSP were taken down, when blogspot were banned, when one more sites were filtered and monitor the behavior of GFW. I found my first article on the censorship is in Sept 2002, when most people didn’t start blogging. According to that censorship law, my site has been an illegal site for three years. Spent 5 minutes on the archive page will see the discussion on this topic.

I found the most misleading sentence I used in this article is “there is not much censorship on this blog and I can talk the topic I choose to talk about.” What I meant was, there is difference between censorship and self-censorship. If you have enough courage, you can talk whatever we choose too without censorship (if you don’t host your blog in a local BSP). I proudly archived all my articles on the topics that are considered sensitive.

In the last three years, I was happy that I did spend effort to approach the truth, although it is very hard. To be true to myself is not always easy as it seemed to be. I have to face pressure from both inside or outside China.

For example, I started to report SARS independantly from Feb, 2003. In March and April, when all the media says there is no SARS, it was not easy to always stand up and report the panic people had no matter what was in the media. When I look back, I even didn’t believe the courage I had when I faced the inquiries from western media to stick to the truth. However, to critize the government does not ALWAYS mean to be closer to the truth. When strong and effective actions were taken and SARS were under control, and we didn’t feel the panic, the western media still reported all the bad things despite of the efforts people made, it is equally hard to say “Protecting China, Not only Against SARS” to fight back on the dishonest discussion in western media. I don’t think the attack I got is less than the attack I got when I spoke out the truth of SARS. In 2003, I learnt the way many media worked, and didn’t feel very comfortable when so many media warned people NOT to go to China as late as the end of 2003. I admit there are always confusion inside myself and sometime I even argue whether I am doing the right thing? My mind changed a lot in three years. What I can tell myself is, at least I tried harder than others to clarify the truth (which is not always possible for me to approach).

However, no matter what attack and pressure I got, I believe it is always right to be truthful to my heart and do not put anything that I personally don’t believe in this blog. This is the rule.

The reason I was not comfortable with the interview is not talking about censorship. The problem is, I don’t want to be put into a condition that there is a pre-set conclusion and my role is just to act as a victim in the story and confirm it. I felt happy that I didn’t accept the live broadcast. Although the reporter said it is only a program about the recent Chinese Blogging Conference, she started the program like this:

“Now in China, the great wall has been replaced by the great firewall. In cyber spaces, the Chinese government uses electronic firewalls to control information coming into another country. Cenorship is there. There are thousands of Internet police monitoring what you say and look at on the web. If they find something they don’t like, you could end up in prison.”

Then poor Yining was introduced to the program. Listen to the radio program again and imagine what you will feel. No wonder why Yining was also angry and wrote this on this blog after the interview:

“Rabiya, BBC, and all the big media:

Do NOT set the interviewees up, do NOT use the interviewees, do NOT manipulate them by cornerning them and directing them to the opinions you yourself want to present, so to fit into your own political agenda.

So if that’s what you are doing, sorry, there is no way I can cooperate.

Tonight, it’s not about censorship, but fair and professional reporting. Censorship is another game, we will play it another day.”

On this issue, I fully understand Yining and support what he said.

The other reason I don’t want to comment is, “to report the fact does not always mean to report the truth”. The agenda of discussion also matters. By setting up topics to discuss, the program is actaully filting a lot of things out. For example, when SARS happens, only reporting the facts like leaders from other countries are visiting (which is 100% true) , but ignoring SARS in the headline does not mean the local media is honest. It is the same in the BBC case. When I found I was put into a position that both “yes” or “no” answer are wrong answer, the only thing I can say is “no comment”. For example, if you ask “Do you have censorship in UK?” If you say “No censorship”, it is absolutely wrong. However, if you just say “Yes”, it also does not reflect the fact that it is not the whole thing of blogging in UK. Censorship is there, as everyone can see. However, when BBC claimed “Chinese Blogging Conference” is a conference to seek for freedom of speech, it is at least not complete. Even when so many people pointed my nose and say “coward”, I believe it is the right thing to say because I have no control of how my voice will appear in the program. Every single sentence or word may be taken out of the context to support something I have no idea yet. I have been put into this position several times in western media before. This time, I became smarter.

At least, the point is not about whether there IS censorship or not. The reality cannot be more clear. The point is, do NOT put other people’s words into my mouth. I will keep blogging about what I see, instead of 1 minute in a program under the agenda set by others.

Having said that, I admit I am not always right. I am clearly aware of it. That is the reason I trust two way communication. If there is anything wrong, tell me, and show me the fact. I want everyone to be aware that what I see, and what I hear is just a very limited part of the world. I see happiness in my life. I see people’s effort to make progress. I know many people in the same city see a different scene, and they also blog about it. That is the beauty of blogging – the wisdom of crowd is the most complete picture of the real world.

My favorate story is the “blind man and the elephant”. We are all the blind man. What I try to avoid is to touch a leg of the elephant but follow others to describe elephant’s ear. What I don’t see is what I don’t see. I don’t want to cheat. I appreciate diversified voices. I appreciate people’s tolerance to what I expressed in this blogging (for three years). Just as people have the right to talk about the dark side of the sociaty, I have the right to talk both bright side and the dark site (which I am not big fan of).

Well. Too much comment – the longest comment I had made on this blog. Again, I appreciate everyone’s point of view, and I feel sorry that my previous entry gave people the feeling that I was denying the existance of censorship. I didn’t mean it.

Thanks.

China Mobile Bill Structure

Just got the Oct bill of China Mobile. Actually, I didn’t pay much attention to the details of a China Mobile bill. I believe the first thing (at least first 20 things) a new comer to Shanghai will do is to get a local mobile. Chances are, you get a China Mobile wireless service and will get the same bill as I get after 30 days.

If you have other plans from China Mobile service, like Shen Zhou Xing (the difference), or different subscriber (China Unicom), it will be much different.

The Structure

There are 5 categories in MY bill:

Monthly Fee

Function Fee

Communication Fee

Value Added Fee

Others

There are many smaller items under each of the categories.

Monthly Fee

If you are a Quanqiutong (GoTone) subscriber, which is billed customer like I am, you will see the monthly fee. For Shenzhouxing, you never get bill because you buy pre-paid card before you use the phone (details).

These fees are fixed. Even if you don’t use your mobile (power off for the whole month), you still need to pay for it.

The fee I have is:

Basic Monthly Fee – 50 RMB for everyone.

GPRS Fee – 20 RMB. There are many packages and 20 RMB seems to be the cheapest one.

Call and Save More Plan Fee – 10 RMB. China Mobile did a lot of promotions to secure its customers and offer cheaper price than its rival China Unicom. For example, for this plan (ZH), you pay 10 RMB first and you will save much more than 10 RMB if you call enough minutes…

All these are fixed, so China Mobile has a better way to forecast its revenue.

Function Fees

There are some functions that are not free. For example, the Caller ID charges 10 RMB per month. I always take it as the most basic function that I know who is calling on my mobile and this is the first time I notice this item. I am curious whether I can remove this item to save 10 RMB. :-) That will change the way I use mobile phone when every call is a mysterious call for me.

Communication Fee

This is the part I discussed in this article: How China Mobile Fee are Charged. This part is variable depending on how much you use the mobile phone. It may (and may not) includes the following items:

Local Calling Fee

Domestic Long Distance Fee

Domestic Roaming Fee

IP Phone Domestic Fee

SMS Fee

GPRS Communication Fee

MMS Fee

IVR Fee

Nothing new here, expect the IVR Fee. IVR (Interactive Voice Response), the technical term has a new meaning here. It means that by calling special phone number, you get voice services like music, or information and China Mobile charges you here.

Value Added Fee

This is where most China Internet companies monetize their huge traffic. Every item represent a SP (Service Provider) company for China Mobile. They can charge huge here. For example, one service can easily charge you 25 RMB per month and every month, you pay the 25 RMB with your mobile bill.

Other

This is just some misc items like they didn’t charge you the change (several cents) last month and you pay it this month – to keep the number you pay always an integer number.

China Blogger Conference

Attended the China Blogger Conference this morning. I met many interesting famous bloggers. I am fortunate to witness the three years of blogging history in China. Now, many people came from Beijing, Guangzhou and Wuhan to the place – in China, it is not common for people to pay by themselves to attend a conference.

Wang Pei

Yezi

Christina

Mei

Renyang

11:18 AM

Topku

Yu Li

Chedong

Jack Gu

Pang Sheng Dong

Wang Jian Shuo

Paul Denlinge

Yuan Zi

15:33

Xiong Jie

Edward Wang

Fang Gang

Heng Ge

Isaac Mao

6e

Lv Xin Xin

The Conference

More pictures: Flickr.com

Topics Selection Guidelines

The entry of previous day Picture in Shanghai got a lot of comments. Let me explain more.

One’s Imagination v.s. Fact

I wrote about “depressed” because there are a lot of tough decisions to make on the business side, and I don’t think I will reveal it. “Depressed” is a good feeling that encourages people. I am grateful to what I am given so far at the age of 28. It helps for me to grow more mature. Not everyone has the opportunity to face the business size as I do. Well. Enough about me.

It is interesting that we see comments that relate my mood to the picture and made conclusion that “Old Shanghai” made me depressed. It is natural though, since we often mistakenly take what we imagine as the fact. I also do so. So don’t worry, farawaypanda.

On page 25 of the Art of Travel, On Anticipation, Alan de Botton said:

If we are surprised by the power of one sulk to destroy the beneficial effects of an entire hotel, it is because we misunderstand what holds up our moods. We are sad at home and blame the weather and the ugliness of the buildings, but on the tropical island we learn (after an argument in a raffia bungalow under a azure sky) that the state of the skies and the appearance of our dwellings can never one their own either underwrite our joy or condemn us to misery.

It applies to Tony‘s case. There are many moods people can have when treated badly. But it all depends on how you think instead of how others think. I can dramatically feel the different I feel when I go to shopping malls. I know the city does not change too much but I did.

Peace

Thanks everyone for “supporting” me in the previous thread, but as I always said, Peace in Discussion is critical for this blog. I encourage people negative voices as much as supporters. So relax.

Topic Choosing Guidelines

farawaypanda proposed an very interesting topic: why I write and what I don’t write. The simple guideline is very simple:

1. I choose the topic, not others.

2. I will see if it is Events (in Shanghai) that affect my life (and others’)

There are many things that is big, astonishing, but if it does not has impact to my life, or others’ life, chances are, I don’t write about it. I don’t write does not mean the event itself is not important – there are much more important things in the world than a personal blog can cover, it means I don’t think it is valuable for me to add one more article based on what I read on newspaper or TV. The Shen 6 event for example, I just don’t see any neccessarity to post a picture that I copy from sina.com.cn and say something like: “Excited…”

The world should have many voices, and I just want to contribute something unique to the Internet.