Jian Shuo is In Real Estate Business

My good friend Alex sent me some photos of the advertisements of a property near his home in northeast China. I was so amused by the photos. They have exactly the same name as mine: Jian Shuo (建硕)


Photographed by Alex Li. Image in courtesy of the developer and investor of the garden


Photographed by Alex Li. Image in courtesy of the developer and investor of the garden

I never saw my name printed in so big font. Friends joked that I have been pushed into the real estate business.

P.S. Many of my friends got spam email from Jianshuo Software Company in Shenzhen these days. They used the same name as mine.

My name is very uncommon and I only found one person with the same name with me in Google.

Shanghai Map Viewer 0.7 Release

Shanghai Map Viewer 0.7 Released

New Features / Bug Fixes:

  • Added LocationReminder so people will always return to the last map location after performing actions, instead of jumping to the home page
  • Title for each page fine tuned with descriptive words
  • The scroll offset bug is fixed. The point is exactly the point you click even if the page is scrolled down
  • Added warning and message to confirm operation. Warning is based on the four situations: added successfully, no place name, duplicate and delete successfully.
  • URL enabled. You can add URL for a point now so bloggers can pin their website onto the map.
  • Delete interface added to the index.asp, so first time visitor know it is possible to delete a point.
  • Restore completed.

Feature Request in Future Releases:

  • xmren asked for Web Service version. Well. I am planning to add it next week in release 1.0

Does Hotmail Work in China?

Dick asked: “As you see, I have a Hotmail email address. Is there any problem in using this account in China.”

Sure. Hotmail works in China. Althought there is a short preiod of time of block of hotmail (who knows whether it is a block or technical difficulties), it is OK most of time.

There are some very big sites that people in China cannot see. Among them are Geocities.com and blogspot.com.

Update Ways to Access Hotmail May 4, 2006

Recently, I mean more than 2 years after this article was first written, some people report that they cannot access hotmail in China. I experienced the problem sometimes using other providers. Thanks for Mike in Guangzhou’s comment, if you cannot access Hotmail in China, try the following link:


It is reported to work perfectly (I can access Hotmail in Shanghai with Shanghai Telecom FTTB+LAN using the normal login at http://hotmail.com).

Update Hotmail is Blocked May 10, 2006

The content of this original content is out-of-date. With so many people complaining about Hotmail problems, I think it is safe to say Hotmail is blocked in China. The reason people gather in this page is because, it is the top result in Google for Hotmail in China. Wow…

If anyone has any confirmed ways to workaround this problem, please let me know by posting comments. If someone confirmed the methods work, please also let us know, so I can promote the methods here.

Update Hotmail is Blocked May 10, 2006

I posted the workarounds I know in this article: Hotmail Blocked in China. Here is the content of the article.

It is brought to my attention that Hotmail is presently blocked in China. I can access it everyday (I don’t know why, but it just works for me.), but I saw a lot of complains on my old post: Does Hotmail Work in China?. There are 52 comments so far. Why? Because it is the first result for Hotmail China in both MSN Search and Google search.

Well. It seems I need to do a little bit homework to find ways to help people out. Here is my analysis.

The Problem

When you type http://hotmail.com or http://www.hotmail.com, you will receive DNS error, as if the site never existed. You may experience long waiting time, before it reports the error.

When you type in http://hotmail.com, it reports DNS error, like the screen capture. Created at 21:40 May 10, 2006 at China Telecom FTTB+LAN in Pudong, China

When you type in http://www.hotmail.com, it also return error, but this time, it return the default error page from China Telecom: advertisement from Yahoo! China, including Yahoo! MP3 search, Baidu.com and Sina.com.cn. Created at 21:40 May 10, 2006 at China Telecom FTTB+LAN in Pudong, China

It seems the domain name DNS service is blocked.

The same problem happens with the Windows Live services, http://live.com.

When you type in http://live.com, it returns this error. Created at 21:40 May 10, 2006 at China Telecom FTTB+LAN in Pudong, China

Other Impact

Since recently, MSN transformed its passport services (the familiar hotmail logon page) to live.com. When live.com is blocked, as shown above, all Microsoft services related to authentication dies. For example, the popular MSN Spaces, a blogging service, becomes instable because it requires authentication. Other services, like http://download.microsoft.com is also reported to be impacted.

I chatted with my friends who may know the situation. None of them really have any suggestions, except asking me to use a proxy server.


Let me try to give several workarounds I collected. It may work now, but no garrentee it works in near future. Just let me know if any method works or stop working. At least at the time I write this article, I personally tested all the methods. They work at least for me on China Telecom FTTB+LAN home broadband in Shanghai.

Option 1: Use Mobile Version

Only the domain names are blocked. The server is live. If you have ways to access the servers without using the hotmail.com or live.com domain, you have a chance. Here is a backdoor:

Visit http://mobile.msn.com/hm/folder.aspx

MSN Mobile logon interface

This interface is designed exclusively for Windows Mobile cellphones. You can login to check your emails. The interface is very simple and small – to fit into mobile – but it is better than nothing if you urgently need to check your Hotmail messages.

The reason it works is because, the link I provide will redirect you to this URL:







It does not use the hotmail.com or live.com domain

Thanks for this article to share this methods with me.

Option 2: Using MSN Messenger 7.0

If you have MSN Messenger 7.0 or 7.5 (I am using 7.5) on your computer, you can simply click on the Mail icon to enter Hotmail. It is still using the old passport service, not live.com. Please make sure you are using these versions, not MSN Messenger 8.0.

Option 3: Logon to Passport First

If you feel the mobile version is not acceptable, try this.

Visit https://login.live.com/login.srf


Passport logon page

Also live.com is not accessible, https://login.live.com is OK. Please note the URL is https:// instead of http://.

After you enter your Hotmail username and password, you will see the MSN Account Services page. Click the hotmail link on the left top of the page, and you should be able to access hotmail.

Option 4: Direct URL

This URL works for me. But I have no idea about whether it works for you. Let me know your feedback.



Option 5: Use Outlook Express

Just configure Outlook Express to check emails from hotmail.

If you haven’t done it before, here are the steps:

Go to Start -> All Programs -> Outlook Express.

Tools -> Accounts -> Add… -> Mail

Display Name: Your real name, click Next.

Email address: yourname@hotmail.com, click Next.

Accept defult HTTP as server, Hotmail as provider, and click Next.

Enter your user name and password, click Next.

Click Finsih. Then click Close to close the account tab.

Then you will have all your mails in your hotmail in your mailbox.

I’d like to hear your feedback about what option worked and what didn’t. If it didn’t work, please post comments and let people know what you have tried, where are you, and which provider you use.

Good luck!

Option 5: Use Torpark.

Thanks for Amelia’s recommendation. Download Torpark may solve the problem. (I didn’t verify it yet).

Free .TK Domain Available

Do you know there is a country called Tokelau on our planet? I didn’t know it either before blogopoly mentioned that I can get free top level domain from this country.

It is small island some where in the world – I still didn’t find a map with its name yet. Some crazy guys from the Dot TK team visited the atolls in September 2003 and presented what the Internet means to such a small country. They met with the Council of Elderly and concluded that they can use Internet to bring foods and medicines to the small country. The idea they thought of is to offer FREE .tk domain to the world.

Of cause, not all domains are free. I tried to register wjs.com and I was told it cost 5000 USD. Free domains only support URL forward and you actually don’t own the domain since the domain is not licensed to you.

Having the story told, let me tell you can get from the island. If you have any fancy idea that you want get started quickly, but don’t want those dynamics domain names, just visit DOT.TK and registered a FREE .TK domain name. For example, I just registered wangjianshuo.tk. Visitors to the domain is redirected to an URL you set.

Hurry. Plenty of very good domain names are available.

Shanghai Map Viewer 0.6 Released

Today, I released Shanghai Map Viewer Version 0.6. Key features (including the features previously avaiable).

  • Scroll the window to eight directions.
  • Thumbnail and one-click move.
  • Mark points with click and add description
  • Record the marks into database
  • All points available for all visitors
  • Wiki style editing support
  • Anyone can delete previous point
  • Anyone can restore deleted point
  • User registration

Someone posted it to Fudan BBS and attracted some hits. I got 22 qualified points today. Good!

Future plan:

I will add the following feature in the next release version 0.7.

  • Fix the bug that when the window is scrolled down, the positioning of the red point has a offset.
  • Enable “Claim ownership of this point” function, so more information, like the blog URL, description, category can be attached to a point
  • Find a logo and a code name for the points

Cross Bank Money Transfer Now Possible

Believe it or not, it was impossible to transfer money from one bank to the other easily before. No matter how huge the amount it is, you have to withdraw cash in one bank counter, bring it to the other bank counter (with high risk) and deposit the money in the destination bank – all are manual operations and used cash. I am almost driven mad to be forced get the money from ATM machine and wait in the long line to pay my mortgage for my apartment. As a habit of an IT industry professional, I kept asking: Why not a service to enable transfer of money electronically? The cash transactions are just stupid.

Run told me the availability of the service. The China Pay (run by the China Union Pay Co. Ltd.) started the cross-bank money transfer business from end of March, 2003. Now, it supports money transfer of 11 banks. According to their website, you need to go to the out-bound bank (the money you transfer your money out) counter to apply for the service and you can conduct online transfer with China Pay.

The application for Bank of China is only processed in three branches in Shanghai downtown. I remember one is at 1221, Nanjing West Road (map).

ICBC – A Customer’s Experience

Update: Fraud Alert! October 06, 2006

Warning: If you happen to be ready to contact a person named Wang Yang Lee or other persons in ICBC that you have won a lottery, please STOP now! It seems to be a serious fraud. Check here for more information.

Disclaimer: What I wrote here only represents my personal opinion based on my limited experiences with the bank mentioned. It should not be regarded as a real reflection of the overall service level of the bank.

Let me tell you my story of ICBC. By the way, you may know the theory that an unsatisfied customer will tell at least 20 of his friends about the bad experience? I am the unsatisfied customer and I believe at least 50 persons will read this article – I am the powerful dissatisfied customer, aren’t I?

Counter Service. I often use the most crowded ICBC Tian Yao Qiao Rd. Branch. The good thing is, they have a Q-matic queue management system at the door. You can press a button to get a small piece ticket telling you how many people are waiting in line before you. The average number was around 50. Once I got a ticket with 120 people waiting before me while there were only two windows open! It often costs my whole noon break to wait there. Maybe this is a good sign of the heavy business volume of the bank from another point of view. Anway, it is one of the largest bank in China. Also, long line not only happens in ICBC. I also see long lines in my favorite China Merchant Bank.

My friend Willie told me that this never happens in U.S. since people will just go online to transfer money and to pay their bills. This is not the case in Shanghai yet. ICBC has its self-service facilities, telephone bank system and web bank system in place. They must have thrown millions of dollars into the systems. However, poor usability of the web bank are barriers preventing more people to try the service. I think I am among the most skillful web users. Even I gave it after attempting to use their online service since I don’t know how to continue. I doubt whether normal user like my mom would possibility utilize the system well. By the way, did the web developers know that if I didn’t configure my browser to send ZH-CN language code to the server, all the characters it returned are all question marks which are not readable at all?

I need to point out again here, that this is my personal experience. My experience didn’t prevent ICBC winning the World Best Online Bank award by The Banker. Why? I didn’t find a reason so far.

ICBC was the pioneer to try out non-password protected credit card. Its international credit card follows the international tradition, that only signature is needed and customers don’t need to input a PIN. Almost all credit cards from other banks in China require customer to key in a PIN to pay. Unexpectedly, this innovation brought trouble to ICBC and to card holders like me. Tellers at supermarkets are not trained to use this “new?card so they insisted me to enter a pin before I use my card. It is wired situation that I don’t have a pin. I don’t know the pin myself. It took quite some time to explain that this is an international credit card and it does not require a pin to use. Later, we found out the trick that keying any random 6-digit number on the keyboard will do the work. So less argument for me and time was saved. Recently, ICBC have to step one step back and added pin protection to all its credit card again. It proved again that customers in China have so different customer behaviors and something works internationally will not always work in China.

I also encountered several time the teller told me I cannot withdraw the money because the computer system is down. That was annoying. They have pre-printed, well decorated notice boards saying “Computer is down. Service paused” at every counter. It seems the computer-down is their daily routine and the utilization of the notice boards is high. I argued with them that why the computer system goes down so frequently. The young man at the right-most counter of the Tian Yao Qiao branch simply gave me an are-you-stupid look and said: “It is the computer that is down. Why yelling at ME?”

I cancelled my International Credit Card last October. Surprisingly, they returned the money on the card was as late as mid Jan, 2004. They used the 3 month to go through lengthy process to refund the 200 RMB annual fee (which they charged by mistake) to my bank account before they can refund me the large amount of deposit I made. I anxiously checked with them every week to get my money back.

Well. There is still something I like for ICBC. The number of outlets is the highest among all banks and I can always find a ICBC bank. Their Q-matic system is cool. Their telephone service hotline 95588 is good. Also, it is the issuer of my first international credit card.

OK. That is my personal experience that explains why I will give a 5 out of 1-9 rating system for ICBC. To be fair to ICBC, I want anyone read the report to know to the banks I use most are Bank of China, China Merchant Bank and ICBC. ICBC are still a good bank, but it happened I was shown its worse side to me.

Thanks for WilliamW to give me suggestions regarding this article

Service Quality of Banks in China (Shanghai)

I told a short story of the service level of banks in China yesterday. In the story, a foreigner argued with the teller that the teller should help to fill in the form for him. Many people commented on the story. They shared their diversified view from Japan and U.S.

WilliamW believes it is the service mentality instead of language barrier that caused the problem. WilliamW also asked about the situation of smaller banks like China Merchant Banks.

JH argued “Unless there are some major holes in the current system of that bank, filling in an application form should have nothing to do with the customer’s authorization of accessing the money in the account.”

Billy was so nice to bring out the idea to take pictures of all the application form and help to translate English into Chinese annotations and post it to the web to help foreigners to survive.

Micah talked about his experience of working “under rules that seem to run against common sense” in a large chain book store. Micah suggested that “When a customer runs up against a rule like that, the best the she/he can do is ask to talk to the person who makes the rules and can override them: the manager. There’s no shame in asking to speak to a manager.”

Xu praised the extended service hours of banks in China. “Each bank here Japan is to be closed in exact 3 PM, and of course no Saturday and Sunday service.” He wondered “how a full-time job employee can catch time to visit a bank? or leave it all to his full-time housekeeper wife ? Sigh …”

Brad was lucky since the teller Brad met helped him to fill in the form. I wonder whether the “against-common-sense” policy is branch specific policy or the teller Brad met did the right thing by breaking the rule. Who knows?

Tane had different point of view and asked “why the foreginers kept arguing with the bank clerks while people waited in a long line. If it’s the way to do in there, let’s do it in that way.”

Well. It is a great discussion thread. Inspired by your comments, I want to share more about my personal experience with the major banks in China. Let’s start with ICBC.

PageRank – Higher Position in Google Result

Charles asked: “How did you get your website to be on top of the list when I searched google?” He is not the first to ask me about it.

The secret is the quality of the article and proper title, URL and link structure.

The king the rules the order is Google’s Page Rank system (PageRank). My site http://home.wangjianshuo.com home page enjoys PR6 now. It receached PR5 after one year of operation and reached PR6 in about two years.

The secret of higher PageRank is explained in Google’s PageRank FAQ:

In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”

So to make it easy, just use plain text, write frequently, interlink with each page and develop high quality articles so others are willing to link to you. That is the secret behind the higher position in Google search.


I’ll be Beijing From Feb 8 to Feb 14

When was my last time in Beijing? Maybe Sept 07, 2003? That is my last blog entry mentioning Beijing.

Wow. It is incredible that I didn’t set my foot in Beijing for about half year. It was a long time ago. I am a Frequent Flyer and in the last half year, I didn’t travel as crazy as before.

I have a lot of friends in Beijing, but I don’t know anyone who read this blog are in Beijing (judged from the comment). I’d be happy to meet some people there. Drop me an email. :-D

Service Shock in Shanghai

Services foreigners received in Shanghai contributed a lot in their culture shock in Shanghai. I heard too many stories about it. Can I call it “service shock”?

Yesterday, I went to the Bank of China Tianlin Branch. When I queued to register my ChinaPay service at my Bank of China credit card, I witnessed a foreigner arguing with the agent behind the thick glass of the counter.

The story was like this: The foreigner, well dressed, young man, about 28 in age, wanted to open a bank account at Bank of China. He can speak a little bit Chinese but cannot read or write Chinese. He insists the person serving him to fill-in the form on his behalf.

At the other side of the counter was a young man in uniform. He insisted the customer find someone else in the lobby to help him. He said according to the regulation of the Bank of China, service representatives like him must NOT fill in any form on behalf of the customer. I guess this is to avoid fraud by the employees. Although I doubt whether the policy works or not, there is a reasonable explanation for it: thus the service representatives cannot fill in a form and withdraw money from a customer’s bank account.

Well. Here is the paradox. The foreigner repeated his argument that 1) “I am your customer”. 2) “I don’t want others to know my information”. He refused the help of the secure guard who wanted to help him to fill in the form. He said “I don’t want him to know my personal information. It is my privacy”… Reasonable! The service representative has the liability keep all the information confidential while others may not.

Ha-ha. It is an interesting argument. Finally, the young man in uniform was forced to call their head quarter for further instruction and the foreigner waited at the counter angrily.

I don’t know the result of the argument. At least it was not settled before I left the bank.

Expected and Delivered, Big Gap in Service

Shanghai’s service industry needs to improve to meet the international standard. Due to less competition, banks agents are still sitting there comfortably where customers in line and wait for half an hour to get served. My CitiBank account manager called once a month to update me about my bank status, although I didn’t deposit much money there, but ICBC and Bank of China never called for a single time. That is the difference.

Shanghai Still Need to Do a Lot of Work to be Foreigner Friendly

From my observation as a local resident, I still feel Shanghai is not foreigner friendly. By unfriendly, I don’t mean discrimination, attack, against, or words like this. It is just the information and the service level.

Not many people can speak English now. Of cause the places foreigners are expected to go, like hotel, tourist company, stores designate for foreigners, even Xiang Yang market, people are able to speak English. However, for expats, who really live here and must deal with local services, like utility companies, banks,

housing, things are much harder.

Fortunately, Shanghai has a large number of foreigners and foreigners find out their own ways to survive and make money from this gap. The most comprehensive English guide for Shanghai is That’s Shanghai. There are companies like Easy Mandarin are teaching people to learn Chinese. Real Estate companies like Shanghome.com to help expats to find places. And there are portals like ShanghaiExpat.com for expats to gather.

Abandon of One Entry Per Day Rule

When I wrote my first entry in 2002 (that was long time ago), I have decided to create one and only one entry everyday. It was to resist my attempt to write more entries per day at the very beginning. I know if I do that, I will lose the passion of writing very soon and the blog won’t last long. The history repeated itself for many times on me. It is called Hu Tou She Wei (虎头蛇尾). It is to describe something with an ambitious start as the head of a tiger but end up with nothing as the tail of a snake.

Time proofed the rule is quite helpful. The rule helped to balance the pace of the blogging. If there are two or more interesting topics, I will not write it in one day and may keep it on the list. If some day I don’t have any topic, I will take a look of the list and choose one to write.

Now, after 519 days of blogging, I am quite sure that I will not abandon blogging easily since it is a habit. It is the homework I have to do everyday before I go to bed. The rule has become an impediment to create a timely update. Sometimes, I have to put several irrelevant topics under the same title (the same entry) if I do have to write about it.

So I decided to carefully abandon the rule I created for myself. From now on, I may post more than on entry per day, but don’t expect it.

My topics will still cover the following aspect:

Shanghai – the amazing city.

Geek Happiness – I enjoy the cool (but sometimes less useful) things I can create with the latest technology.

Daily Life – what the life of a normal person in this big city is.

Thanks for listening.

Google Adsense on Sites in China

Three months ago, I turned on Google Adsense. It went well during the experiment. It IS an experiment to try new technology or services. Here is a report of with some details to help to get started with Google Adsense. It may be especially helpful for webmasters in China since not many people are familiar with the check and the process to claim the money. Due to the Adsense Terms and Conditions, I cannot disclose details of my earning, click-through rate related to my site performance. Don’t ask me for that. I won’t tell.

At Least it Covers my Site Infrustructure Expense

The money I got is not a big number. The number itself is not exciting at all. However, the fact that a hobby can run on a cost-recovery model is really exciting. At least the small income covered my expenses on this website:

  • Domain names. I don’t know why www.net.cn could made so good offer for wangjianshuo.com at 60 RMB (7.22 USD) per year. I paid for 5 years before. The offer is not available now. I always register new domain names at godaddy.com at 7.95 USD / year. Pretty good deal.
  • Hosting Fee. The hosting fee for my site is 380 RMB (45.8 USD) per year with PHP, PERL, ASP support and without database. It is 100M disk space at companyCN.com. I experienced server down from time to time. Anyway, I just don’t want to change my hosting since it requires a lot of changes in all the scripts configuration files. As you may know, before that, I hosted the site at my home

Actually that is all the money I spent on this website PARTICULALY. I didn’t count the camera I used, the laptop I used, and most importantly, the time and effort I put into the site.

Language Accepted

Google now accepts sites from all around the world, but they only accept English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish sites. Chinese is not support and according to Google’s Adsense Program Policy, “Ads must not be displayed on any page with content primarily in an unsupported language.” For sites like mine – created, hosted in China but in English – it is accepted.

Blog sites

Google generally doesn’t accept personal pages.

In general, we do not accept personal pages or chat sites into the AdSense program. However, if a site contains targeted, text-based content and/or provides a product or service, we may consider it for participation. (source)

My first application was rejected due to my nature of a blog. I applied the second time later since Google said they welcome site owners to try again if the application is rejected since their program policy may change. My site was accepted at my second try. I guess they may discover that my site is not only talking about my own life, it also talks about a general topic…

Don’t Cheat

Don’t ever think about cheating in Google Adsense Program. Google is a great company. They combined high tech with labor intensive work. I guess they have a large customer service team behind since their responses to my inquiries were fast and to-the-point. They are monitoring the huge traffic of the Adsense program with the help of Google’s patten matching technology. Keep your mouse out of your own Ad. Discussion at WebmasterWorld.com’s Adsense forum revealed lots of webmasters got warning email from Google after they clicked their own Ad by mistake. High quality of the program and the return on investment is the success factor of AdSense and AdWords.

The Check

According to my Google Adsense Payment History Report, my check for November, 2003 was sent out on December 17, 2003. When I got the check, it was already January 8, 2004. According to the Google’s check, the actual time the check was printed was December 19, 2003.

The Money

Check means paper before it is claimed. It seems many banks in China can help to send the check back to U.S to claim the money. I used China Merchant Bank. I paid 20 RMB (3 USD) as the handling fee and told them my credit card number. They said the money will get to my credit in 3 weeks. Yesterday I checked the card and the money has arrived. So expect two months delay of the payment (one month for Google to send the check and one month for the bank to claim you money).


Google’s Adsense Program may change the Internet. With the website hosting and domain names covered, more people would be happy to build websites and play with it. Personal publishing will boom. Google’s program is unique from other advertisement network since its Ads are generally relative to the content. Both the site owners and the advertisers will love it.