Congratulations to Andrew McLaughlin

Another piece of YLF (Young Leader’s Forum) news: Andrew is going to be the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of Obama Administration. (Source: Google’s Top Policy Executive to Join Obama Administration).

Congratulations to Andrew McLaughlin to play a big role! Interestingly, I saw Andrew one week before the YLF 2007 in Nanjing in Google’s office, by introduction of Isaac Mao. Then I get back and go to Nanjing, and at the forum, I saw someone with familiar face. It turned out that he is Andrew.

Great. Another YLF Fellow hit a new height of challenge.

Gulangyu Photos by Wendy

Wendy gets back from Gulangyu with some nice photos. It compliment to my journey record about one month ago. I didn’t take too many photos the last time.

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

Photograph by Wendy Fan

ENFP is Incompatible with GTD

ENFP = Extroverted iNtuition Feeling Perception type of MBTI

GTD = Getting Things Done – a productivity methodology by David Allen

I bought a Moleskine notebook, and attached tags, and wrote my to-do-list on it, and categorize them as GTD suggested. It looked pretty promising at the very beginning.

In a conference, I met my friend Akio Tanaka (who should be of similar personality type as myself), and showed off my notebook. He asked: How long have you tried this system? I admitted that I only started two weeks ago. He said, let’s talk about it after a while.

Now, a while has past, and I admit, that to-do-list driven life is not what I want and what I am good at. GTD must be very useful for many people, and there must be some part of it suitable for everyone, but as an ENFP, I just feel that I am not compatible with GTD, and I am at the edge of quitting it (again).

I am curious to know what Robert Mao is doing with the GTD, because I GUESS he is also an ENFP.

End of a Holiday without Wendy

Three days past so quickly, that I need to face a working Sunday tomorrow.

I didn’t feel well at begining (as I said, I felt like caught by flu), but I am fine very quickly, with temperature always between 35 -36 °C (my meter IS working very well).

Wendy went to Xiamen, and Gulangyu Island with her friends. So it is a dragon boat festival without Wendy. I slept for long hours in the last three days. Elliot Ng was right. If getting sick happens to be at the same time of a long holiday, that is a sign that I need some rest. There is a theory in Chinese medicine (which I don’t really believe in) that when people starts to slow down, the body gets a chance to get sick, something it does not have time to do when you are working so hard.

So, I feel I am fully rested already, but the challenge is, how to get back to the fast track tomorrow after sleeping days and nights for so long.

BTW, Yifan is very happy when he always can find his father around him. Even though sometimes I am just sleeping, he would come and try to use his small hands to make my eyes open. He is also happy to follow whatever I do. I stood by the wall, and he did it. I walked and he followed. I sat down at the stairs, and watch a book, and he sat down at another stair and played his red car.

Yifan is turning two years old the next week.

Nikon D50 CHA Error with SD Card

Wendy just called from Xiamen (she went there with friends) and complained that she got a new SD card, and put it into our Nikon D50, and got error message “CHA” and cannot take photo.

I did some research and confirmed that Nikon D50 is incompatible with any SD card larger than 2G.

P.S. I posted a short message on my twitter about feeling like being caught by flu, and got many response. I am feeling better now.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival

Happy Dragon Boat Festival to everyone. It is now a Chinese national holiday.

I tend to call it Zongzi festival. Zongzi is the food that everyone eats (well, not everyone, at least not in my family) on this day. It is a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.

The holiday continues tomorrow (Friday), and ends on Saturday. The cost of the three day holiday is, people get back to work on Sunday.

US Congressmen Visit Shanghai

It is pretty late after I left the Ritz Carlton Club on the 43th floor of Ritz Carlton Portman hotel. US congressman Rick Larson (Democratic, Washington) and Mark Kirk (Republic, Illinois) are visiting Shanghai (news), after they arrived in Hong Kong, and visited Guangzhou, before they fly to Beijing. With the two congressmen is the inimitable Steven Orlins (as we always used the interesting word “inimitable” after the tradition of usage before Chairman Mao).

I am still not very sure about the publicity level of a political figure like a congressman in US. I suspect that everything they said would be on-the-record, and Rick confirmed that the meeting can be blogged, but I am, well, still not so sure about the field I have no idea at all. To be honest, I don’t have too much sense of how politics works. I don’t have knowledge about it in China (as most people, and exactly as what the Party wanted us to be), and don’t know about the US. So, I don’t want to talk too much about the content of the meeting.

BTW, this is my second time to see Rick Larson (the first time was a sea food dinner at Pine Market in Seattle), and it was a pity that Mark didn’t came downstairs.

Bribe for Driver’s License?

Many of my friends are trying to get their driver’s license. The driver’s license exam consists of different stages of exams. Here are my experience:

If you want to Learn to Drive, you first sign up to a

driving school, and pass the Written Test for Driver’s License then Pass the Field and Road Driving Exam. That was pretty straight forward.

However, the straight forward thing is not so simple in Shanghai.

Give Money (bribe) or Not

My friends are discussing everyday is, whether they give the standard 200 RMB fee for each of the three exams (600 RMB in total). It is the “industry standard” that almost everyone knows.

For the written test, most people don’t pay the official for the 200 RMB, since if they can remember the answers, they can pass by themselves. Those who need “help” can pay the money, so the person at the test room will give you hint so you can make sure you pass.

For the stage two and three, especially for the field and road test, the rule of thumb from the previous people are, you should always pay the money. Since if you don’t pay, it is for sure that you don’t pass, and you have to pay another 100 RMB to take the exam again and you may not pass again.

For field test, and road test, four persons get onto the same car with the policeman (the person who gives you pass or fail result), and the four will drive in turn, and the “boss” will decide.

The rumor is (not verified, and I don’t think any person can verify), if three of the persons pays, and one person don’t way, it is for sure the person will fail, since there is quota. If all the four person pays, they will switch one person with another not paid (bribed) person, so they can give fail to at least one person for that car.

My survey is, more than half of people paid the government official to get passed.

System Problems, and Do We Still Hold the Hope

This is just one of the many small instances to prove that the system of this country does not work. No one is really upset because of the existence of this. Along with the red bags for doctors, and kick-backs of many transactions, I found it is a system combined interest, and power, and thus that can be pretty hard to fight against. It is especially hard with censorship, and control of media – most people are not aware of it (although everyone with a driver’s license in this city should have faced the dilemma).

I was happy that I didn’t pay anything the time I passed the exam. The initial result for me was “fail” – there are one thousand thing that you can say if the standard is just one person’s subject judgment. My tutor was nice and got back to the room to talk with the policeman, and 10 minutes later, my result turned to “pass”. I would suspect that I fail for the first time was because I didn’t give him the 200 RMB This was just my guess, since I don’t want to defame people for something I don’t have evidence. But, I have a pretty high confident that my guess can be true depending on what I heard about.

It is Easy Said than Done

I know many people who claimed to have higher morale standard will jump up and say: “Don’t Pay! Don’t Pay!” It is easier said than done.

I am the type of person who would stop at a broke (always red) red light at mid-night for 15 minutes, and then call the TV station, and then report the issue on the hottest TV program (the full story). I know there is something that we need to do, but I admit that even after reporting to Oriental TV, and waited at the cross road of Nandan Road, and Caoxi Road, around 11:30 PM for 15 minutes, I finally choose to pass the street at red light. My point is, we can do our part to fix the problem (like what I am doing by letting more people be aware of the issue), we are still individual living in this world, which already have so many rules (unwritten rules) that you need to follow. I just want to put a disclaimer here before tens of negative comments flow in pointing fingers to my friends who actually paid the money – pretty similar situation as you are stuck in the middle of a cross road with all directions showing red lights.

The Only Beach in Shanghai

This morning, the whole family went to the Daning Green Land 大宁绿地, at the west of the Shanghai Circus. The reason we went there was, it has the only beach in Shanghai.

Well. I admit that I made a mistake here. It is not a beach. It is just a lake with some sand on the north side of it.

However, it is the only place in the whole Shanghai that I can bring Yifan to really play sand. There are some other man-made beach in Fengxian, and in Jinshan, but none of them are as child friendly as the place we went to.

Yifan was very happy that for the first time, he is able to sit on the sand, and play with the water. There are many kids there.

Be prepared that since ti is just by the lake, the water is pretty dirty compared to real beach. But, it is somewhere worth to bring kids to.

Hijacked Education by Scientists

This is a series of articles on education in Shanghai (I tried to avoid big topics like Education in China:

Worry about Yifan’s Education and

Worry about Yifan’s Education – Part II
Is China Changeable?

Chinese or International Eduction?

University Education = Hukou in China

Schools Conducted by Gaokao

Hijacked Education by Scientists

After writing for a week about all the pressure the Chinese educational system put to students, let me spend one article to discuss about the output of this system.

The idea and even title of this article was inspired by Hong-Wei Hua’s previous article with the same title. He did great job in analyzing the current situation and answered one question: “Why University Students Cannot Find a Job after Graduation?”

Reality of University Graduates

After 16 years of school education (9 years preliminary + 3 year high school + 4 year university), and high pressure education, the graduates from universities seem should be very capable. The reality is just the opposite.

The university students today cannot find a job!

To be fair, one of the key driver was there are too many graduates compared to 10 years ago, and there are impact of current job market, but it is far beyond that reason.

Since all the students were educated in a way to pass a certain exam, I am sure they can do it much better than other students. My bias is, if you put the same students from all countries to do exactly the same paper of the College Entrance Exam (the version China is using), they may win over others.

Unfortunately, after they graduate, they are facing challenges of real world, no longer an exam. Students got lost, and suddenly found out that they are not taught of the practical skills to handle the job.

Student’s Perspective

From a student’s perspective, let me share my own story. In the third year of university, once I walk over the job posting board on campus, and started to read the job requirements: SQL Server, Java, PowerBuilder … I was so puzzled that all the skills a company required never appeared in our books – we are still struggling in C. That was the main trigger I shifted my focus, and self-studied by my own in the following two years. To be honest, I skipped most of the classes, and learn the useful things I chose. I am proud that I did it.

Company’s Perspective

As a business owner, I also hire students. My feedback is, I need to invest huge in education. University students don’t have the basic skills to do the job, and we need to turn ourselves into a training center in the first half year. The dilemma is, all best performing students go to good universities. They have huge potential, but knows very few. The students who go to not so good universities, or who didn’t go to university appeared to be more skillful, however, with limited potential.

University’s Perspective

That comes to the point why I would agree with Hua that our educational system was hijacked by scientists. Look at the courses even in today’s university in China – the goal of most of the courses is to train an academic researcher, not for working in a company.

The reality is, most of students (more then 90%) in undergraduate education have to be given up by the system because they don’t really qualify to do the academic research (and they are not interested), and those small portion go to graduate school, and then the non-qualified will be thrown out of university, and those continue to go to doctor degree.

It seems to me that the whole high education was aimed to select a certain type of people (academic research) at a cost of 98% of students’ future.

An analogy will be: thinking about a school with the only goal to select and build the fastest runner and send him to Olympics Game. But the school has the authority to recruit all young men in this country. Yes. Finally, after tough selection, there will be one or two succeed in doing that and get great result, the cost will be, however, millions of other runners who were abandoned get out of the school, only to find out that no runner is needed in this whole society.

Well. A another interesting thing is, although the goal is to find the best academic person, Chinese system failed miserably because students are lack of research skills, and creative skills. That is another topic to discuss though.