Last Day of 2003

It is the last day of 2003. After 6:00 PM, I went out to dinner at Gino at the Grand Gateway. Nice soup and bread.

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© Jian Shuo Wang

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© Jian Shuo Wang

Then we took metro to Hua Hai Road, hoping to see some special activities at the new year’s eve. Many buildings are decorated with lights. Here is the Rui An Tower.

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© Jian Shuo Wang

shanghai-shining.tower-huaihai.jpg

© Jian Shuo Wang

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© Jian Shuo Wang

Cool Stuffs at Amazon

I like companies like Amazon. They always have cool ideas to do traditional business with high-tech ways. Here are some examples.

Search Inside

Amazon is offering the “Search Inside” feature. It allows customers to search every word inside a book. To me, it means more like a feature of “READ inside”. I can quickly search a keyword in a book, and read the sample pages containing the word. I hope one day, when most books offer Search Inside feature, I can simply visit Amazon to search for a word that is in a book on my hand – just the F3 key of my hard copy book.

This service will add more values to both publisher and reader. It generates interest to buy the book. I wanted to buy after I read some sample chapters.

Update More on Search Inside December 31, 2003

Xu asked:

And you just tickled me, I became eager to know how you quickly search a keyword in a book, and read the sample pages containing the word.

Here are the steps.

  1. Choose a topic. Since not all books offer Search Inside feature, some topics, like weblogs, are more likely to offre books with Search Inside features than other topics like cooking. Let’s take weblog as the topic.

  2. Search for books with the keyword using the search box on the left of home page.
  3. In search result, look for Search Inside! mark on the book. Here are an example for We Blog.

    screen-we.blog-book.search.inside.jpg

    Image courtesy of Amazon.com

  4. Click on the book for the book details page. You need to continue to click on the book cover with Search Inside! mark for the second time to come to the Book Preview page.
  5. You will see a green box titled Search inside this book,

    screen-search.inside.book-amazon.PNG

    Screen shot courtesy of Amazon.com

  6. Enter a keyword into the box – you can find the keyword you are interested in the Index Page. Then you will see the sample pages – typically 5 pages are shown once.

You will be prompted to enter your credit card if you didn’t do so before. I dont’ know the limit of sample pages I can see – I didn’t reach the limit yet.

Purchase Circles

Amazon can list the best sellers according to many different groups. For example, this is a list of best sellers shipped to China and here is the top books Sun employees buy.

This is how it is made:

We group the items we send to particular zip and postal codes, and the items ordered from each domain name. We then aggregate this anonymous data and apply an algorithm that constructs bestseller lists of items that are more popular with each specific group than with the general population. No personally identifiable information is used to create Purchase Circle lists. The regularity with which a Purchase Circle is updated depends on its size and activity of a Purchase Circle group. Large Purchase Circles are updated weekly; smaller ones are updated monthly. [Source: Purchase Circle FAQ from Amazon.com

Any provider with data is the king…

P.S. Another Blog Award Begins

End of 2003 sees many votes and awards. Year-end is the time to review the year and find out something big to be memorized.

The Asia Weblog Award just ended. The result will come out soon. It is a pity that many good blogs are not nominated under the “anyone can vote but no one takes care of quality and coverage” mechanism. There should be a clear and verifiable way to ensure the quality of result.

Voting itself is not a good way to identify good blog. The review of a reputable committee based on voting results may be better.

Now the Best China English Blog voting started. It is organized by major blog service providers and players. I definitely support it since it is a very good initiative to bring awareness to blog world and identity those good blogs. However, I still didn’t see the logic behind why the blog with most votes is best. I’d like to thank those who worked very hard to make it happen. I know it is not easy.

WilliamW is very kind to vote for me. Thanks for your effort. I really appreciate it.

Wendy Became a Writer

Another interesting thing in life is that I just discovered that Wendy is a good writer. She posted an article named The Era of Post-Growth (Chinese). Very good article. I like it.

My Alexa Traffic Ranking Improved

My Alexa web traffic ranking improves. Today, wangjianshuo.com, including both home… and www… is ranked as the 92,392nd largest site in terms of traffic. It is the first time it jumps into top 100,000.

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Credit: Alexa.com

If the trend continues, the site will be top 30,000 largest site in three months. :-D

This is my current ranking (may be different than the one I stated above)

Alexa Toolbar

The positive change is not reflecting the real situation. The page view does not improve dramatically. The truth is, I installed the Alexa toolbar on my computer. As the most frequent visitor of the site, my visits greatly impacted the ranking. The lower a site’s rank is, the lower the accuracy the rank is. Don’t take it seriously.

Directory Improvement

Yesterday, when I am home alone, I dig into Perl scripts and finally managed to replace my old MTRelatedEntries plugin with MTLinksRelatedEntries I wrote.

I have more than 400 entries and there are about 70 entries for each category. The links listed under Related Entries section are no longer related to each other since the current category is too generic. So I implemented Links 2.0 and built a directory. In this hierarchy, entries can be put into smaller categories and there is only two to seven entries per category. Items in the same category are related to each other better.

After the category is built, I put other links under the same category to the Related Entries section. I hope people get better experience with this site after the change.

Summary of the Year of 2003

The year of 2003 is passing by.

Personal

In this year, I got married, held the big fat wedding ceremony. I didn’t have any long trip (like Daocheng of last year), but I paid short trips to nearby areas. It sounds crazy to cycle to Taihu, Chongming, Tongli, and Pudong Airport. I also visited some unuasual places like seashore, 30N 119E. There are still some Starbucks stores I didn’t visit this year yet. Maybe next year…

I learnt to drive and got my driver’s license this year. I had good time to drive in this large city.

Domestic

This year is a bad year for China. SARS, fire, the taiwan’s election and the blowout of natural gas… all claimed many people’s life.

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Image courtesy of Xinhua via Sina.com

International

The year of 2003 is also a bad year internationally. The Iraq war, mad cows, the Iran earthquake… bad news after bad news.

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Image courtesy of MSNBC.com

2003 is a year of change…. Isaac’s post confirmed that widely spread saying “2003 is a bad year”. I hope the new start of 2004 will bring more good news to us.

Wonderful MeetUp on Dec 26

I am excited about the successful meet-up yesterday in Starbucks Metro City Store. Eight persons including me attended the casual talk. We played a game of writing three statements about everyone him/her selves with two true and one false statement. It gave everyone the opportunity to tell others about his/her life, personality, and interests. It is a good ice breaking game.

Attendants

Tutu

Sophie

Vicky

Stonesee

Ghee Teh

Xiao Jing

Jian Shuo Wang

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Final group photo. Used with permission.

Note: The order of the names are different from the order in the photo in case they don’t what others to recognize them. :-D

Topics

We had great fun to guess which one was the wrong statement. The exploration of the stories behind the true statements were equally interesting. Stonesee shared his fantastic travel experience to Southeast Asia countries. Tutu just returned from her trip to Lijiang and mentioned the kind host of a local guide Zhaxi. I explained more about my incomplete visit to 30N 119E. It seemed we were all interested in such kind of adventure.

We were happy to have Teh in the meet up during his short stay in Shanghai. He talked about his experience in financial industry. We all burst into laughter when Vicky described her statement “I have two dogs?

We found we know each other by friends. The six degree of separation (or the small world theory) is proved again. Xiao-Jing is a friend of Isaac. :-D Stonesee recorded the instinct of women in his blog. Xiao-Jing had the ability to always pick up the right answer with her sixth-sense while Stonesee and me were almost always wrong.

shanghai.meetup-tutu-alone.jpg    shanghai.meetup-vicky.stonesee.jpg

Why Meet up

One of my accomplishment of 2003 is to continue to add more content into my blog everyday no matter how busy I am. The response from my friends and readers is the reason I keep it up. I always wanted to meet my friends I already know from their comments.

The Internet is a great way to people to get connected, but face to face communication can never be replaced. We cherish the opportunity to be at the same city and the POSSIBLITY to meet and have a cup of coffee. I also gathered feedback about their most interested parts of Wangjianshuo’s blog. Teh and Vicky are interested in my how-to parts and others are more interested in funny projects like 30N 119E…

Thanks for coming! I am looking forward the next meet-up. I hope to see more people in person.

P.S. As the lucky draw, I will give one week of free promotion for attendants with a blog.

Holiday Schedule of 2004

The holiday schedule is released early for the whole year of 2004. According to the schedule, there are three 3-day holidays plus a new year’s day, making the national wide holiday 10 days. After shifting with nearby weekends, there will be three long holidays – 7 days for each plus a New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Day

Jan 1, 2004 is a Thursday. Take one day off.

Spring Festival

Holiday starts from Jan 22, 2004 to Jan 28, 2004. Jan 22 is the Spring Festival. The official holidays are Jan 22, Jan 23 and Jan 24. They are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. By moving the weekend Jan 17, Jan 18 to Jan 26, Jan 27, and Jan 24 to Jan 28, the whole week is holiday, but I need to go work at Jan 17 and 18.

May Day

The May Day is simpler. The official holiday is May 1 (Sat), May 2 (Sun) and May 3 (Mon). As compensation for the holiday on weekends, May 4 (Tues), May 5 (Wed) will continue to be holiday. At last, by shifting the following weekends two days earlier, May 6 (Thru) and May 7 (Fri) become holiday but May 8 and May 9 are working days.

National Day

The schedule for National Day is something like May Day. It starts at Oct 1 (Fri) and ends at Oct 7 (Thru). The following weekends (Oct 9, Oct 10) are shifted to the previous week.

My Holidays

I recorded my previous holidays in this category: Top -> Life -> Holidays:

I hope I will keep recording the holidays of 2004.

Where to Study Chinese, Beijing or Shanghai?

Scott, an American in Tokyo is planning to move to Shanghai to study Chinese. He sent me the following questions:

Around this time next year, I’m planning to move to China to take intensive Mandarin courses for at least a year. I’m definitely a city person, and from my current perspective, Shanghai appeals to me most. However, I’m having second thoughts. I’m having a difficult time deciding which city to focus on–Shanghai, Beijing, or somewhere else. I was hoping you could help me with two questions:

1. In your opinion, do you think Shanghai is still a viable option for studying (and learning) Mandarin considering the dialect spoken in Shanghai, plus the higher cost of living compared to other cities in China?

2. About how much money (in RBM or USD) would a student need to get through one year of studying at a university in Shanghai (including tuition, rent in an average part of town, food, drinking money, and some spending cash)?

Credit: Scott. Quoted with permission

Which City?

Regarding your question about which city to study, it is highly dependant on where do you plan to work and live after you learnt the language. If you choose to work in Shanghai (I recommend it), you’d better study there since it gives you plenty of time to get familiar with the city, settle down and for the job hunting.

The living cost is higher in Shanghai compared to that in Beijing. Shanghai is a modern city with good living facilities, so you will feel less culture shock. Check the 10 Things You Love/Hate About Shanghai.

Beijing is more like a typical Chinese city – long history, traditional architectures, slower pace of live, beautiful landscape. You can understand the Chinese culture better there. Although, the side effect is, the culture shock will be great for you. As you said you are a city person, Shanghai is a safer choice for you and Beijing is an exciting adventure.

Purely Learning Chinese

If you don’t consider other aspects of moving, I would highly recommend you to go to Beijing to study Chinese. Beijing is the capital. It is the culture, art, architecture (traditional) central. There are very good universities there, like Beijing University and Tsinghua University. They offer very course – I heard some expat friends recommend them.

Regarding the dialect, Beijing also have a strong dialect, that is different than Putonghua (Mandarin). Personal, foreigners who can add some Beijing dialect appear to know the language better to me. Sometimes it is a hint to really know about the culture in China.

If you choose Beijing, Beijing University has better reputation on literature and language. So does the foreigner language education there.

In Shanghai, Fudan and Jiatong University are the options. Fudan has better Chinese language program while Jiaotong’s Xuhui Campus is in the downtown.

Cost

I don’t know the cost of Beijing. For Shanghai, here is the tuition and accommodation cost for Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU):

Tuition Fee:

    USD990/term or RMB8200/term

Accommodation:

    Single Room: 3300 RMB/month or 1200 USD/3 months

    double Room: 3600 RMB/month or 1300 USD/3 months

Course

    4 hours/day, Monday to Friday for 12 weeks

Schedule:

    April 7, 2003 – June 27, 2003

    July 7, 2003 – September 26, 2003

    September 8, 2003 – December 5, 2003

    October 8, 2003 – December 19, 2003

    January 5, 2004 – April 2, 2004

Source: Shanghai Jiaotong University Adult Education School Language Training Center For reference propose only.

The room on campus of 3300 RMB/month is very high. You can find apartment in nearby neighborhood with lower price – around 2000 RMB. For other cost, it is definitely cheaper than that in Tokyo or U.S. Food is cheap here but drinking (especially at bars) are expensive. The cost depends what you think is necessary for life.

Chinese Program Review

John:

Fudan University’s Chinese language program is TERRIBLE. All foreigners who have studied there agree on this. I know it’s a famous university, but evidently they don’t put much effort into developing a good Chinese language program.

Have you studied in any Chinese Lanaguage Program in China? Please let the others know your experience by posting a comment on this page. You will find the comment form at the end of this page. In your comment, answer the following questions:

1) Which university did you go for the program?

2) Which program did you attended?

3) What is the length of your program?

4) What is your Chinese language level before attending the program?

5) Overall comments on the program?

6) Top three reasons why you are satisifed or dissatisified with the program?

7) What you’d like to say to those who are considering enrolling the program?

Merry Christmas

screen-christmas.2003-logo.jpg Merry Christmas!!!!

I am not sure when I should post this entry, on December 24, the Christmas eve or December 25, the Christmas day. Anyway, I cannot hold to tomorrow so I’d like to post my greetings today. Merry Christmas everyone!

Photographer: Wendy Fan. Send this picture as your greeting card to your friends.

This is Christmas card that I am uisng for this year. Many people asked me about this picture. As some may know, the picture is taken by Wendy in Munich. I believe the shining toys in the shop perfectly reflect my mood at the holiday. Best wishes to my family, my friends, my workmates, my old classmates and of cause, my readers.

Merry Christmas!

At the Christmas of last year, I posted my seasonal greetings to my friends here. This year, the list is much longer. Here it goes.

I’d like to send my greetings to all my friends this year:

To my family memebers: to my parents and my brothers and sisters and sisters-in-laws and brothers-in-laws. Many of them in Luoyang, Fuzhou, Portland, Cleveland, Torronto, Tongchuan…

To the younger generations of the family: Ting, Yue, Hong, Yuan, Anna and Beibei.

To the people I know at work: Steven, Eric, Linda, Yayi, Kenny, Grace, Wendy, Eddy, Eddie, Run, XGAO, yq… (don’t let me list the whole address book)

To my classmates: Ruifeng, Xiaogong, Jia, Tao, Peng, Yu, Jie..

To my best friends growing up together: Xiangfeng, Lijie, Chen, Jinping…

To my friends online: cuanyu, christina,

To my knowledgable friends: Yizhong, Hao, Isaac,…..

To my friends met in Daocheng: caca, jingbo, laobing, yanlin, yehong…..

To my teachers and mentors: Tao, Mr. Kang, Prof. Ju,

To everyone I have every met but don’t know too much: Haoyuan, Qi….

To Flora, who really needs greetings and encouragement.

To all the readers of this blog: Carroll, Ginn, Xu, David, WilliamW, tutu…

To my Hong-Wei who is so important on my way to grow up.

To other great bloggers, Haily, leylop, dodo. I have a list of my favorite blog at my WWW/Blog directory

To those who helped a lot: Sebastian, Targ… There are so many.

Merry Chrismas to you all!

Unlike people in western countries, Christmas is not an official holiday in China. I still work full day today and tomorrow. However, Christmas has become an important holiday among young generations in Shanghai. The Christmas Trees and the gift exchange become the fashion.

I went to the Shanghai Film Art Center for the two new movie: Feng Xiao Gang’s Cell Phone and Taiwan’s Metro (or Sounds of Colors in English). Both are very good movies and I will recommend them to my friends.

10 Things You Love/Hate About Shanghai

I found a very interesting thread titled 10 things you love/hate about Shanghai? on Shanghaiexpat.com. It looks so interesting to me as a local resident. I have request permission from the authors so I can publish the list here. Here are my summary. I’d better not to quote the interesting explaination about why they like or dislike without their permission first. But do read the original text to get a good laugh.

Likes

  • Safety

  • Food
  • Low Cost of Living
  • Public Transportation
  • Simple Lifestyle and Family Values

Dislikes

  • Being pushed and shoved around, queue jumpers

  • Poor hygiene
  • Night life is too expensive
  • No foreign language bookstore

  • Not being able to communicate

My Comment

They posted very good summery on their views to Shanghai as a foreigner. There is almost no surprise for me when I see the list. The only exception is “Public Transportation” in “likes” side and “lack of foreign language bookstore” in “dislikes” field.

So if you happen to be in Shanghai, what is your 10 Things You Love/Hate About Shanghai? Or 10 Things You Love/Hate About the City you Live?

Update January 15, 2003

After got kellian’s permission, I happily quote her wonderful article here. It is very interesting.

ok- Love:

1; FOOOOOD- Man they have the best food there- a vegetarian’s paradise, and so healthy compared to American stuff

2: Family values: yeah yeah cheesy I know, but I feel like it improves my quality of life just to see happy families of couples that like each-other taking care of their kids and parents and actually seeming to enjoy it.

3: Less in-your-face sex and violence marketing. No reality tv shows, you can go to the movies or open a magazine and not be embarrassed- I really feel like art and movies are better cause they’re small scale and can’t use sex or violence as back-ups. WHAT??! we need a script?!

4: Kids are kids- they play, they laugh, they don’t wear makeup till they’re in high school, they don’t dress like britney, they don’t ask for land rovers at 16, no serious drug or violence troubles- definitely a more innocent life

5: Opportunity: I can do stuff in China I could never do at home, I’m comfortable, I’ve been in a rock band and on TV and can teach what I want to teach and when, there’s a lot of freedom.

Don’t love:

1: Being so far from my family: I really like my family and it sucks being a 24 hour flight away from home.

2: Being a foreigner: sometimes it just really sucks always being the outsider

3: The expat community: sorry guys- I know there are lots of nice expats in the city, most of them probably on this forum- but I’ve met a lot of nasty, snobby, sleazy, weird-o expats in this town (and I’ve lived abroad before, why Shanghai gets ‘em all, I don’t know). The Chinese have by far been friendlier and more accepting than “my own kind”, and boy is that a slap in the face sometimes.

4: Hygene: you get used to it, but it still gets me the way that people treat their houses and streets and selves…whooo..

5: Lack of straightforwardness in Chinese culture: This is just the culture, it’s just the way it is and I’ve learned to accept it, but the Chinese will lie through their teeth, they’ll cheat you and never think twice, nothing’s ever certain and you will never ever ever get a straight answer. That’s just how they do it and I’ll be damned if I ever make sense of it- or understand how anyone ever owns any sort of business in this country, but they seem to make it work somehow.

You’ll seldom hear anyone say “I Love it here!” or “I hate it here!” cause I’d probably say most people can’t even figure it out for themselves. Some days its amazing. Some days you hate everything Chinese. That’s what makes it fascinating I guess. I’ll never figure these people out, no matter how long I’m here I can never predict what they’ll do- sometimes someone will commit some amazing act of selflessness and nobility for no reason- and then a half hour later so something so small and slimy you just wanna smack them. But I’m still here, so I guess that means the good outweighs the bad for me!

Dongzhi – Winter Solstice

Today is Dongzhi – the Winter Solstice. My friend ACai mentioned the day on the BBS of my old classmates. I wasn’t aware of that till then.

It is a tradition in my hometown (Henan of Central China) to eat Chinese dumplings (Jiaozi) on this day. Children are told that if you don’t eat dumplings on that day, their ears will be frozen and drop down. Yes. All child believe in it. :-D I laughed when the folklore was mentioned on the BBS again.

Day time today is the shortest in the whole year and Sun is farthest south. I found very interesting explanation about relationship between this holiday and the belief of yin and yang:

This celebration can be traced to the Chinese belief in yin and yang, which represent balance and harmony in life. It is believed that the yin qualities of darkness and cold are at their most powerful at this time, but it is also the turning point, giving way to the light and warmth of yang. For this reason, the Dong Zhi Festival is a time for optimism.

Quoted from Hong Kong Tourism Board

According to this website, even the Yin Yang (or Tai-Chi) symbol comes are related to this special day.

Credit: Chinese Fortune Calendar

Read on in that article. I have to admire those who discovered this thousands of years ago. They are clever people.