Last Day of Feb

The last day of Feb. Here is the status of my life.

  • I am reading “The Search” by John Battelle. Thanks Xiaofeng for sharing the book with me. I have already covered the classic history of Goto.com/Overture.

  • I have another small book written by Robin Lee (Li Yan Hong), CEO of Baidu.com, back in 1999. At that time, Robin didn’t start Baidu yet. The preface of the book was Charles Zhang (Zhang Chao Yang), currently the CEO of Sohu.com. There was very limited copy for that book. Hengge (boss of blogbus.com) borrowed the book from me. This Monday, Larry Zou (CEO of wealink.com) got the book from Hengge and start to read it – the journey of a small booklet.
  • It is cold and raining. I hate the weather like this.
  • Published an article on Fashion Travel (Chinese version National Geographic) with my silly big face and mvm‘s
  • Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Kijiji. One year was not easy. There are too much moments in the 365 days. We will celebrate the event with a two-day training session.
  • Edgeio.com was announced and attracted much buzz. That is the latest movement of decentralization of ecommerce on the Internet.
  • I am now a big fan of My Own Swordsman (武林外传). It is so funny – a TV play like Friends or Sex and City, but happened in ancient China.
  • Recently my productivity increased a lot, but also consuming too much brainpower, and I feel very tired recently.
  • Wendy is back from Seattle. I am happy about that.

Culture Differences – Part II

I went to a church in Pudong with in-laws this Sunday morning. I am not a Christian, but I found the religion service beneficial for me. It helped me to understand the life better, and also on cultural difference.

The pastor talked about difference between Chinese and Israel cultural. As put it by the minister of Israel, culture in Israel is all around the relationship between people and the God; in China, it is all about the relationship among people.

This echos the observation of “Deal-oriented v.s. Relationship-oriented” difference. It is too complicated a topic to discuss in blog, so let me spend time in ancient Chinese books like Tao (Dao).

Mashup Pictures

On March 17, there is an invitation only event called “Mashup China” in Nanjing (again, Mao, Isaac, 6e, Owen, me, etc) along with the Search Engine Strategy summit there. To prepare for the format of the small 7-person (may be 17?) event, I am looking at the pictures of Mashup Camp.

Image from Flickr, in courtesy of chachra

From the question, my question is, why there are so many guys from Microsoft attending the event? I saw the familiar black Microsoft ribbon.

The other event appeared in the Idea Factory China mail list is Carson Workshop

Cultural Differences Between China and America

The comment of mcgjcn mentioned a name R. R. Gesteland. I research the name in Google and found some interesting resources on cultural differences (like this, and this). In all the works, Norihiko Shimizu’s paper “Today’s Taboos may be gone tomorrow“, Tokyo Business, February 1995, p.51. is a very frequently quoted materials in all MBA courses on International Marketing, and Cross-culture business. It was comparasion between Japan and American. I found many of the points also applies to China.

Cultural Difference between Japanese and American Individual

Lifestyles

American

A Culture of self-expression

Japanese

A Culture of Self restrain

Clear expression of Joy and sorrow Ambiguous of joy and sorrow
Unequivocal expression of “Yes/No”. Equivocal expression of “Yes/No”.

Strong Personality Weak Personality
Priority of self-interest Priority of harmony with others

Source: Norihiko Shimizu’s paper “Today’s Taboos may be gone tomorrow“, Tokyo Business, February 1995, p.51.

Cultural Differences between Japanese and American Business

American Business Japanese Business
Game concept: Business is a game in pursuit of profits under the rules of laws and contracts Mutual trust-oriented business: business is based on trusting relationship among people rather than the rules of game
Efficiency-oriented and approximate accuracy simplicity, clarity, and quickness Highly precision-oriented and perfectionism-high dependency on human awareness
Easy layoffs, dismissals of employees, and selling of businesses Job security
Low mutual dependence between employers and employees High mutual dependence between employers and employees
Heavy dependence on machinery and technology, vs. Light dependence on human resources Heavy dependence on human resources

This comparision answered many of my questions on effeciency v.s. diversity, why the way of doing business is so different cross the two continents.

P.S. Isaac shared Flickr photos with tag Einstein with Idea Factory China. It is so interesting – I am amazed more that how people follows the rule so well.

Diversity, Consistency, and Efficiency – Part II

After the entry Diversity, Consistency, and Efficiency, many readers posted so great comments that I cannot help quoting it. (Quoting in full text is rare on this blog.)

Roger Chan commented:

Good points in your article above. Some other important factors I’d mention, to nurture the growth of companies like Google in Chinese cities:

1. Transparency, transparency, transparency. You *absolutely must* have transparency for a company to be successful and to attract wide-scale investment, that is, transparency in the management, transparency in the financial records, transparency in both successes and errors. Without transparency, investors will not trust your company and it will fail. This is why there must be intolerance for corruption in the Chinese companies and the government– this damages transparency and leads to mistrust by investors.

2. Innovation by the company with R&D. Research and development, translated into products, is the cornerstone of success in places like the USA’s Silicon Valley. This applies both to new products, as well as to Chinese cultural exports (such as films)– to reach the “big leagues,” you have to innovate your own products and come up with your own ideas, not copy those of others. As all the cheap knock-offs of Hollywood films in Hong Kong and Shanghai indicate, many smart Chinese people still spend too much time copying the ideas and culture of others, rather than innovating their own.

3. A more solid banking sector and stock market. Many other people have talked about this, but China’s banking sector does need reforms, and banks have to be smarter about their loans and avoid bad loans.

4. More partnerships between universities and companies to do the most innovative scientific and engineering work. I know that Chinese companies and university laboratories can be incredibly innovative– I’ve read Chinese scientific journals before (I can read the characters), and the work in there is as good or better than universities in the US. You need to increase the volume and output of this scientific work and increase the collaboration of university and corporate laboratories. To do this, increase both the number of trained scientists and the specialized journals in which they publish their ideas. Then encourage them to work together.

5. When you start up new scientific and engineering journals in China, the journals should be *in Chinese*, your native language. I heard an idea a while ago to start up a bunch of English-language journals in China, but this would be a total waste of time– it’s very difficult to write a scientific paper in a foreign tongue even if you’re very good at it, and 10 times faster to write a paper in your native language. For example, the Japanese started up a bunch of English-language journals in the early 1990s, but the editors and paper authors wound up wasting years of delay *even after the labs had finished their projects*, trying to nitpick the English composition while their competitors just published in their native Japanese (with the best papers being translated into other languages anyway). Your scientists would be wasting precious time mastering the fine points of English composition when they should be focusing on publishing their ideas in their native language. You have that luxury since you have 1.4 billion people and soon the most scientists and engineers in the world. It may be useful to have online versions of the journals in both the Chinese characters and in Romanized pinyin, which can help many non-Chinese read them; it’s easy to interconvert between them, a simple computer program can convert the characters to pinyin. (Millions of non-Chinese, including Europeans and Americans, can read pinyin well even as they’re still learning the characters.) As a bonus, millions of Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Singaporean, and even some Western and other scientists would soon publish their papers in the Chinese journals (since the Chinese characters and the language are extensively studied throughout East Asia). But the journals should be in Chinese to encourage efficient publication and communication. I emphasize this especially.

6. Strengthen your patents, trademarks, and copyrights system. This is very important– the countries with the most innovation and most successful companies (like Google) also have the most robust patent and trademarks systems, since this ensures that people are rewarded *financially* for their ideas. You have to have that sort of economic incentive to convince people to put in the hard work that creates a company like Google and makes it an economic enterprise. You have to reward them and also protect them from others who would just copy their ideas. China’s intellectual property laws are still too weak– you need to make them stronger.

7. Finally, stop buying up so many US Treasury bills, and instead focus all your surplus dollars from trade into development and infrastructure at home. Companies like Google, Hewlett-Packard and Dell require reliable roads and telephone lines to do business, which requires infrastructure investment by the local, state and federal governments in the USA. You in China earn many dollars from your trade with the US, but then you waste your profits by buying up US T-bills, on which you lose money as the US dollar falls. So, you are essentially giving away your hard labor and your products to the US for free! You should instead use your profits from exports to the US, to build up your own infrastructure and focus on development in China. This will make you a mature economy and able to start companies like Google, Microsoft and IBM. As long as you continue to send Chinese export profits (and savings) to the US in those T-bill purchases, China will continue to be a third-world country (and the US will try to impose tariffs on you as well). Instead, use your profits to build yourselves up at home. In the process, just allow the RMB currency to rise, *gradually*. A rapid renminbi rise would be dangerous, as it was for the yen in Japan in 1990. Instead, just gradually reduce your US T-bill purchases and diversify into buying Euros and yen so that the RMB gradually rises, then use your excess dollars (and other export currency profits) to invest in infrastructure at home and purchase of strategic resources. To have big and successful companies, you need to be focus more of your export profits at home.

mcgjcn added:

R. R. Gesteland said “One group of the world’s societies worships the clock and venerates their Filofaxes. The other group is more relaxed about time and scheduling, focusing instead on the people around them.”

U.S. as Rigid Time society value schedule and discipline… may lack of flexibility.

China as Fluid Time society value flexibility… may lack of efficiency/consistency.

Globalization is causing culture mix, but it takes time.

Just continue to add some points (again, random thoughts)

  • Consistency produces efficiency; efficiency produces quality. As Martin put it, quality, by nature, is consistency.

  • I cannot comment on whether efficiency (or in other word, lower cost) and quality (in other word, consistency) are two major competitive factors on global market. It is especially so with WTO (World Trade Organization), and free trading zones. We don’t know whether cost/quality combination will still work after 100 years, but at least, it is the current worldwide standard.
  • Whether the standard of the world will change from value/money/business driven to other fact driven? I have no idea and don’t see any sign yet.
  • China’s diversity has deep historical and culture reasons. Just as Gesteland put it, focusing on people instead of worship time/schedule is key China culture element.
  • Efficiency of thinking can be archived by mathematics. The quantitative thinking in western culture tend to convert all problems to number problems (from modern economics, to chemical, to (the extreme extend) computer). It is another effort to drive the common essence among different stuff, while in China, people keeps diversity as it is.
  • China will change, but very slowly. The world is also changing
  • Dennis Waitley said: “The only danger raised with adversity, mistaking the mistakes to yourself.” It is very true in current China – the economy problems do not 100% due to the current system/culture. Don’t mistake the mistakes.
  • Many business in China are flexible, but not consistent.
  • In the Business of Zhending Chicken case, it full respect diversity of users, but lose efficiency.
  • To survive in China, people from foreign countries need to put aside of criticism options, and learn the philosophy used here. To keep one’s finger crossed and pray for the change of China is not realised in short time
  • People power is one of the key weapon to fight against diversity.
  • By default, employees are different with each other. They are diversified and can handle diversified questions they face everyday. People don’t like well trained customer service representatives with U.S. standard, because lack of the human element. “Human element” is diversity (in particular, pleasant surprises). It is removed for consistency. However, this is exactly what customers in China expect – they always expect pleasant exceptions (the enemy of consistency).
  • Diversity is the reason of low efficiency.
  • People need to accept lower efficiency does not mean failure in China. Highest efficiency does not always mean success, especially in those industries requiring people-to-people interaction.
  • According to the book The Botany of Desire, a plant’s-eye view of the world, diversity is grand rule of the nature. Human’s effort to drive consistency will eventually fail (after several centuries). Single-type tomato in South Ireland has called half of the popular starving to death when one type of plant cannot resist a new virus. It may be true for huge international companies.
  • Conflict of culture (flexibility v.s. consistency, strategy v.s. ad-hoc, people v.s. system) will be ultimate question in the process of any internationalisation process.

Feel free to post the content or link to other forums, since I am really interested in this topic. Deep dig into the topic is worthwhile, since it helps to answer lots of questions people in both continents have.

Diversity, Consistency, and Efficiency

I have some point-of-views for diversity, consistency, efficiency, and the difference between China and U.S. It is just some random thought, without any systematic thinking…

  • When a company just went IPO (like Google), internationalization is the only way to keep up with the fast pace of Wall Street.

  • Internationalization is hard. It is harder than one can imagine.
  • In U.S., consistency across all the states, and across all the business, and people have been established. Consistency is the key to efficiency. Only when people can handle all the request in the same or very similar way, they can be efficient.
  • China is a diversified country. Difference between geographic locations, businesses is obvious.
  • No surprise when we see several people can run a huge business, because the shipping, payment, law, etc are pretty consistent. In China, the challenge is, there are so many banks that have different interfaces. The same bank has different system in each region. The business process varies greatly from company to company… etc.
  • I won’t say consistency is the only right way. Diversity is the essential part of the nature. The nature is diversity. Although the human effort to force consistency in recent several hundreds year worked, it may eventually fail.
  • Currently, at least in this century, the economy is designed that only the country with highest efficiency win. That is the biggest challenge for the process of globalization.
  • With WTO, China is unconvertible moving to be part of the global world. So it is critical for people in China to start to learn the international rules.
  • For people doing business in China, it is also critical to understand the difference, get insight about the culture. It does not make sense to complain the rule is not the same as other regions. This rule has been there for thousands of years.

Related: 20 Years of Professional Managers in China

ifuleuiycfi – I Really Admire You, Spammers

Recently, the admin tool of this site is very slow. I didn’t pay enough attention until it takes about several minutes to load a page in MovableType admin. I found out it was because of the comment spams.

The log shows I am almost 1000 junk comments every day. In the peak time (6:00 – 8:00 AM), there are more than 10 comment requests in every single minute.

MovableType have great anti-spam features. It blocked all of them, but it requires a lot of resources to handle that. The result is, the server is slower and slower. Lunarpages, the hosting company ever emailed me complaining my MT installation sometimes consumes about 40% of one CPU, out of 4 CPU they have for the server.

It seems to be a serious issue.

Changed the Script Name

I guess the spammers may try to post to the default installation of all the MT based blogs: /cgi-bin/mt/mt.cgi. I decided to change the default script name from mt-comments.cgi to something new. I choose the name of the script to a random name.

mt-comments-ifuleuiycfi.cgi

Then changed the configuration so it is now the new comment script. The name ifuleuiycfi of the scripts reads:

I Fu Le U If You Can Find It.

Fu Le means admire in Chinese

Spams Comes After Me

To be honest with you, I don’t think they will check the page for comment scripts before posting spams.

I was wrong, deadly wrong. Within one minute, a new comment spam appeared, using the new comment script. I did a rename, so the previous comment script does not exist already.

screen-ifuleuiycgi.png

New spams keep coming. I’d like to say: “I really admire you guys, spammers”.

Since many of the URL ends with .ru, I guess it comes from Russia.

Changed to Javascript Code

The rule I set for anti-spam is, I don’t add additional work to people who comments. Quickly, I wrote a piece of code like this:

<form method=”post” action=”http://home.wangjianshuo.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-comments.cgi”

name=”comments_form”

onsubmit=”if (this.bakecookie.checked) rememberMe(this); s1=’http://home.wangjia’; s2=’nshuo.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-’; s3=’comments-ifuleuiycfi.cgi’; this.action = s1+s2+s3;”>

The form still direct the robots to mt-comments.cgi, which does not exist.

This time, the comment spams went away. I got only one spam in the last few days – obviously, this honest guy posted manually.

From the server log, mt-comments.cgi is really busy. A file not found error does not add as much burden to the server as a real comment.

So way to go, cheers, and jia you, those spam robots!

Review of Selected Demo by TechCrunch

Isaac shared a link to ideasfactorychina mail-list: TechCrunch ยป A Taste of DEMO 2006. I posted back my review of several demos. According to Michale, “70 companies gather at a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona to compete head on for our attention. $15,000 buys you 5 minutes in front of 700 people, and a chance to make history.” The fact of how expensive the 5 minutes is sounds interesting already.

Review of Selected Demo by TechCrunch

Credit: The demo was quoted from Michael Arrington‘s TechCrunch.com.

Table of Content

Online Storage – Giving a URL to an object

I don’t know exactly how Zingee works. My guess is, it turn the client computer into a server, or use some kind of P2P technology. It is impossible for them to load the files into their web server, since they have don’t limit the size of the file.

The idea is simple. I am more interested in the idea to assign a URL to something that does not really exist on the server (in Zingee.com’s case, a file in users’ computer).

What if someone can assign a URL to physical object? For example, if someone can assign a URL to the lamp on my desk in my read room, I will be happy. Then I can click the URL and turn the lamp on or off. This requires some physical connector to the lamp from an Internet-enabled PC. We don’t have these kinds of device handy yet. So Zingee.com is smart to assign a URL to someone in an Internet connected PC.

Making Books – Combining a Traditional Business with a New Customer Base

http://www.blurb.com/learn.html

In China, there are enough printing companies. In China, there are enough bloggers.

How to match the two can be a big business. The problem is, the entrance barrier is not that high – it is the common problem for many businesses that has huge demand. It is something like restaurant business.

They start with downloading software – a good way to turn visitors into customers. Since it is free to create the book, people will create the book. Since the book is ready, many people will pay to get it printed out.

Kaboodle – the secret of a piece of Javascript

 

Just as the Del.icio.us Javascript code started a completely new world for social book mark, this small application starts with a piece of Javascript and help people to create their own pages.

The time from a standard Yahoo! Homepage to pages like this was greatly reduced with the spread of Google Adsense program. Now developers know, the more content they create, the more revenue they have. The rule of thumb is, the unique visitor number you have per day is the number of RMB you can get from AdSense program per year.

javascript:var _mg56v=’0.2′;

(function()

{

var d=document;var s;try

{s=d.standardCreateElement(‘script’);}

catch(e){}if(typeof(s)!=’object’)s=d.createElement(‘script’);

s.type=’text/javascript’;

s.src=’http://www.kaboodle.com/zg/g.js’;

s.id=’c_grab_js’;

d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);

})();

The site has more than just great idea. They are using AJAX in a very experienced way.

Kosmix – How did they know the categories?

http://www.kosmix.com/search?q=Shanghai&t=vtravel.restaurants&out=travel&lid=leftnav

How did they know the types of information they have? I believe they must have combined the vertical knowledge entered by human, and clustering technology.

P.S. Incomplete reported that Demo China will be held in Beijing this Sept.

P.S. Incomplete’s tag line about other resources is interesting:

screen-incomplete.png

Image in courtesy of Incomplete. (src)

Shanghaixp.com

A Blog is All About a Person

What happened to this blog? Why it is shifting away from its propose – a blog about “Events (in Shanghai) that affect my life (and others’)”? Why there is an entry as short as this one: Productivity Tips – Small Things in Strategic Way? It has nothing to do with Shanghai.

I believe this may be the question in many people’s mind. Let me explain why.

A Blog is All About a Person

I believe a blog is all about a person. It evolves as the person grows up (or old).

The focus of one person many shift along with the time and the responsibility he/she holds.

This year presents much more challenges to me that require me to be more productive than any year I have before. I have to lay out aggressive learning plans to catch up. I am happy that the responsibilities I have and the opportunities I need to catch up are much more than many people at my age. In short, the focus in my personal life shifted a lot.

Tools Shifted with the Owner

Blog is a powerful tool, as you may discover. I decided to use the tool more often to help me organize my knowledge, my activities, and my life. The decision is that I won’t shy away from putting something useful for me on to my PERSONAL blog although it is not about the topic I set at the very beginning.

The focus of the previous three years was on life in Shanghai. In the future, it will not change a lot. The only noticeable change will be, it is more focused on business in Shanghai.

Learning from a Person or from an Expert

Despite of many people’s expectation, I am not an expert in daily life in Shanghai. I am not the right person to tell people where to go out for dinner or buy good stuff (maybe Wendy is). What I did was just to share the little knowledge I know about the city, and it happened to be helpful to others. Just because I was not the expert, many practices are more useful since most of people have the taste of a non-expert. :-)

It is the same when I talk more about personal development, productivity, and business. To observe what one single normal person does in his/her one day may help you to get more information than a comprehensive statistic report from a professional research organization. That is why I think it is still of great value to share at this blog.

When I start to judge whether I should put it into my blog or just keep it as a Word document in my hard disk, I told myself: 1) Don’t treat the blog too seriously. You don’t have to take the responsibility of an editor of a portal or a national wide newspaper. 2) In case it happens to be useful to someone…

P.S. On Productivity

Personally, I found those two articles helped me a lot. I cleaned my mail box within 15 minutes, and give everyone the response they needed. Then I spent time to setup my Email Reference System. It was proven to be very helpful to me. The links happened to come from Microsoft website. I got email challenging me to promote MS product on a personal blog. Well. I proudly put the disclaimer that I was am EXMSFT, maybe the tips only helps those former Microsoft employees? Maybe.. ha-ha.

Update: Febuary 18, 2006

In the morning, I used 30 minutes to process all the back log in my company email folder and my hotmail folder. For the first time in my entire life with Hotmail (since 1996), my inbox of hotmail is empty. Small tips work wonderful for me. Now almost all the inbox in my email account (except Gmail one) is empty now. Good.

P.S. 2. Shanghai Snows

It snowed heavily from 10:00 to 12:30 in the morning. No wonder why recently Shanghai is so cold. It is preparing for the snow. I love snowing, but there is no way for Shanghai to have the snowy scene in Beijing or even in north China like Luoyang.

It is good. Good! Good!