Google Custom Search Engine

I am experimenting Google Custom Search Engine, and here is the result of my experiment. It searched the whole Internet, with priority put on It also filtered some competitors from the list, and add Subscribed Link. You can try to search for “wangjianshuo” or “panxiaoliang” in the search box.

All Maps in China are Transformed

There are rumor that all printed maps that is available in domestic market are transformed. The goal is to make the map useless for military situation to protect the safety of the country.

I heard about it but I didn’t really believe it. I thought to protect the country from foreign intelligence agents by transforming all maps available in a country is just a fool decision.

I do know that in certain Shanghai map, because of the streets in downtown is so crowded, and in other places, density is lower. So they transformed the map to cover as much as places possible while keep the downtown street clear enough to recognize.

However, the rumor is not about this specialize map. It is about all maps in China.

Google Map Revealed the Secret

In most places in China, Google map has a feature to hybrid map and satellite images. I found that handy. In China, however, there are no this feature.

Recently, Google added traffic map. When traffic map overlaid on top of local map, it fits each other perfectly. If the map is overlaid on a satellite map, you see the huge transformation.

Google Traffic on Map

Look at this: the traffic line and the map fit each other perfectly. You see the yellow line as Huashan Road – the road before where I work, and the green thin line is Huaihai Road, and the upper left double green lines are Elevated Highway.


Google Map on Satellite Maps

Look at this again.

The traffic lines are still there, but if you see the reality – the satellite image, you will find out the maps are completely transformed. The real Huashan Road is about 300 meters west of what is shown on the map, and the Huahai Road is actually 200 meters north of it. Meanwhile, it is not a consistent transforming – it is very random.


I checked other maps, and my conclusion is:

Look at a Chinese map, the real location may be 0 – 500 meters north, south, west, or east (randomly) of what the real location is. You have no idea about where the real location is because the transform is random.

It is Not a Problem of a Map Provider

Is it the error of a single map provider? In this case, is, the map source that provided the wrong data? I don’t think so. I talked with Google people about this, and talked with map expert. It seems all the maps are transformed.

I Hope We Release Real Map

Civil usage of GPS was once forced to add some noises so it is not accurate as GPS technology can provide. Now, the ban was lifted, and people can get knowledge of where they are via GPS.

I don’t think today, we can protect anything just by transforming a map. It reminded me about the claim of many local "map experts" that Google maps has released the national secret of China. I think the real national secret is, how narrow minded the "experts" are.

Indian English

Wendy’s team in Microsoft support India customers. Something she suffers a lot is the India accent English. She now brings an iPod, and put some India podcast in it, and listen to India English all the way to work and back to schoo.

Indian -> American -> Chinese

A very interesting thing I found out is,

American can understand 80% of Indian accent English,

American may be can understand 50% of Chinese English (English with strong Chinese accent, also called Chinglish)

However, Chinese can only understand 10% of Indian English.

(The numbers are just for illustration propose – my guess number – you just get the idea).

India English

Ashish Gadnis is one of my best friends who came from India. He speaks amazingly good English, but he has the ability to switch instantly from American English to Indian English. During the last YLF in Nanjing, I tried very hard to learn some Indian English. The sample English sentence I learnt was:

I am a developer from Mumbai

The key is Mumbai – it was pronounced something like Bum-‘bay with strong sound on the ‘bay’ part.

I hope Wendy can get used to India English soon, so the conference call is not that painful, but I also hope Wendy do not speak India nEnglish after that.

Erik Paulsen and Gabrielle Giffords

Got a special note from YLF:

Hearty congratulations to YLFers Erik Paulsen (2005 Fellow) and Gabrielle Giffords (2003 Fellow) for winning their respective U.S. House of Representatives races! In his first term in the House, Erik will represent the 3rd District of Minnesota, and, in her second term, Gabrielle will again represent the 8th District of Arizona.

It was a pity that I was not able to meet Paulsen, or Gabrielle in my Nanjing or Snoqualmie YLF session in the last two years, but I enjoy the news from YLFer – I know YLF people are basically very similiar – nice and warm people.

I don’t know US politics. It is just from a third angle – no matter who, someone from the same organization won something, and that is where my joy come from.

Congratulations, Erik Paulsen and Gabrielle Giffords!

Shanghai Postal Code

I am going to answer another very simple question about Shanghai Postal Code.

This seems simple, but it is not easy to directly get the postal code from street address. There are so many postal code in Shanghai, one for each area.

China postal code is always 6 digits. Shanghai starts from 20xxxx.

Shanghai downtown: 200000

Shanghai County: 201100

Jiading District 嘉定: 201800

Songjiang District 松江: 201600

Nanhui District 南汇: 201300

Fengxian District 奉贤: 201400

Chuanshan District 川沙: 201200

Qingpu District 青浦: 201700

Chongming District 崇明: 202100

Jinshan District: 金山 201500

In Shanghai downtown, at least I know Huangpu area is 200000, and Xujiahui is 200030, and Liuli area in Pudong is 200125…

If you know the street address, you may want to try your luck with Google Maps. Enter your address, and you may find some clue in the search result.

10:00 PM

It is 10:00 PM. I decide to go to bed earlier than normal days. It is important to relax a little bit after working days and nights for some time.

No matter what, to keep the pace of “Life”, or “the body” itself is so important to me. My teeth hurts these days. According to Chinese medicine theory, it is because of the raise of “fire” in my body. Need to take some water (yes, physically drink some water), and some sleep to get rid of it.

House Price

Just to tell you something interesting. I saw an advertisement this morning, stating, “buy a house and get your renovation free”. It tells reader that they would like to deduct 3500/sq meter at the time you the house.

It is obvious that the house developer shy away from saying directly the decrease of price of the property, they stated in another way, but identical to direct cut in house price.


Yifan has wonderful childhood time. He plays all the time from morning to night. He just regret there are just 24 hours in a day, and he has to go to bed after drinking a full bottle of milk at 9:30 PM. Now, he is already asleep.

Taiwan and Mainland Direct Transit

What? Direct flight between Taiwan and mainland China is opened. Meanwhile, there are more than that. There are direct post lines across the strait.

I saw this news on ITimes this morning on Metro. It was a big surprise to me. This seems too quick, much quicker than I thought. I am even not prepared yet.

Taipei and Shanghai?

In the future, direct flight between Taipei and Shanghai will only be 81 minutes. That is just one and half hour – shorter than Beijing and Shanghai.

Before that, my friends coming from Taipei to Shanghai have to transit in Hong Kong. The last week, my visitor from Taipei need to wake up at 2:30 AM to catch earliest flight to be able to have dinner together.

This will happen in 40 days

Big news. Big news. I am looking forward to take flight to Taipei one day in the future.

Bigger News

Of cause, the bigger news is that Obama won the president position… Compared to the later news, the direct line news is not that hot.

Busy Since After National Holiday

Since national holiday, I started to be very busy. There are always exciting things during my work. It is just like getting back to the life when I just joined Microsoft after graduation.

Wasn’t able to update my blog at interval I would expected. May also skip one or two if schedule does not allow. However, I do have many things to share. Just hope to get more time.

Rating of Places Nearby Shanghai

Let me start with an email:

We know places aournd Shanghai like Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing, Shao Xing, Ningbo, Yang Zhou, ZhenJiang & towns like ZhouZhuang, Tongli, Xitang, Nanxun, Luzhi that can make a visit. What is yoru suggestion?

OK. Let me do a rating


I use a rating system of two rating only: “must see”, and “if you have spare time to kill”.

Hangzhou = must see

Suzhou = must see

Wuxi = if you have spare time to kill

Nanjing = must see

Shao Xing = if you have spare time to kill

Ningbo = if you have spare time to kill

Yang Zhou = if you have spare time to kill

Zhen Jiang = if you have spare time to kill

“Must see” means that the place is so interesting, so unique, that if you can make it, definitely go there.

Hangzhou is very different from Shanghai, and it has beautiful lake – west lake. Nanjing is the old capital (as Hangzhou), and there are many things to see.

For other cities, if you have time, do a visit. If you relocate to Shanghai, and you do have a weekend to kill, go there, but it is not at the level that you need to visit during a short 8 day trip in China. (Disclaimer: don’t get offend if I didn’t put your city into must see level. I just see everything from a tourist’s perspective)


For towns, the rule of thumb is, if you want to visit any of the town, you only need to visit one of them, and definitely not two in your 8-day China trip. You may want to visit others in your next trip.

Zhou Zhuang = first level

Tongli = first level

Xitang = second level

Nanxun = second level

Luzhi = second level

First level are recommended, and second level are not as good, but still interesting.

Hope this helps.

Shanghai Population

What is the population of Shanghai? It seems to be a simple question, since the population of any city at a given time is pretty predictable. However, the number for cities in China is not certain, and especially for immigration cities like Shanghai.

Recently when I did research for classified market in other countries, I realized that Denmark only has 5 million people (while its top classified site dbk gets about 60 million USD in revenue) with 129.16/km² density. How about Shanghai?

My typical answer to "Shanghai Population" question is 16 million, including 13 million residence, and 3 million migration/unregistered population. This number seems to have changed when I just looked up this number.

Shanghai Population

It is so hard to calculate exactly how many people in Shanghai. The general way to do it is to treat people stay in the city for more than 6 months also as Shanghai population. This way, the latest report states, that there are 18 million people in this city, among 5 million are people without Shanghai residence, but stay in the city for more than 6 months…

I believe the number will continue to increase. What does it mean when the population is more than 20 million? I just feel that the idea of mega-city does not work. Hope people give an answer during the World Expo – what is a better for better life?

Bus Seems Better than Taxi

Recently, in Shanghai, when I am proposed two choices – bus and taxi, I started to prefer bus. At a glance, you may find taxi has all advantage over bus, except it is more expensive. For me, if we don’t consider cost factor, I still think bus is better.

After thinking hard about why I have the perception, I have the following findings.

Bus is easier

Although taxi is easier, it involves reading the meter, pay with cash or card, and collect the receipt for the ride. You also have to talk with the taxi driver, and tell him where you are going.

Bus, on the contrary is simpler. You don’t need to talk with the driver, or bus attendant – just swipe your wallet on the Transportation Card Reader. You don’t need to take care the bus route – you just decide where you go off. Everything is so predictable, that you don’t need to think. You just make one decision – when to get off.

Bus is more reliable

Although taxi is sometimes faster, bus is more reliable about arriving time. In rainy days, it is so far to get a cab. Sometimes you have to wait for half an hour to get a taxi, after all the hassle to race, compete, and be very smart on strategies… Even half an hour does not guarantee you a taxi.

Bus, on the other side, is pretty reliable about arriving time. It does not come very often, but it does has a schedule, and you are very sure you can get on board a bus in 10 minutes, or 15 minutes.

One happiness theory indicates people get happy when they have control. Buses are something you have more control than taxi.

There are much more to see on a bus

Bus is bigger, and you stand higher. You can see much more of the city on a bus in Shanghai. Meanwhile, there are always something happening on the bus – girls reading mobile phones, or old people carrying all kinds of bags… These stories put yourself into the heart of this city, and you feel you are still connected with others. This is really good.

So, I take much more buses than I did before, and I tried to avoid taxi when possible.

Talk with Kai Fu Lee

It was about two years since I last had lunch with Kaifu in Shanghai. Kaifu Lee is the head of Google China, and we worked together when we were both in Microsoft. I visited Google China office the last week, and spent about one hour in his office.

Kaifu Lee is a Great Friend to Have

I know Kaifu for quite some time, and I admire his academic achievements. Besides that, Kaifu is pretty lovely and kind. Last time, when I send my LinkedIn invitation to my friends, Kaifu returned email about to tell me to use another email address. :-) The only one who treat everything so serious.

The Turbulence

The big chaos, and controversy when Kaifu joined Google from Microsoft – the key news.

The Battle with Baidu

I honestly told Kaifu, that I worried about Google China a lot when it just entered China. It seemed to me that Google has done almost everything wrong initially, exactly as eBay. Meanwhile, its competitor Baidu is a hard player in the field, and use completely local strategy to fight….

Google’s Fans

When Google enters China, there are many Google fans in China. The very high expectation for Google was just as people’s expectation for Microsoft in the early days when it just entered. However, as anything new, it is so hard to deliver the same standard of what is established in US, and they did make some mistakes like the Pinyin IME, and some others.

In 2006, there are many Google fans who get disappointed by Google China, and some started to draw a line between Google (Mount View), and Guge (Google China). Standing in between of the censorship, and all kinds of stupid regulation, and the Google’s international consistency, and standard is not a good thing people expect.

Realistic Expectation

After talking with Kaifu, I think the realistic expectation for Google China is needed, although people don’t really care about what is realistic.

To expect Google China to take the role to fight against the Firewall is realistic. It is just a commercial company with its responsibility for shareholders. To expect Google to fight the same way local companies did is also not realistic. Any company has its own ways of doing things, and for international companies to understand China, it takes time. Think about Microsoft – it took about 10 years to really become mature in China (remember how many general manager was fired in 7 years? 6!)

Good Luck to Google China

Google China is doing great. It has obviously far more exceeded my expectation. Google China not only survived (unlike eBay China), but also getting some market share back these days. During my recent work with Google China employees, I just feel the young Microsoft is getting back – young, energetic, passionate, and professional engineers with a clear goal and vision, and culture…

Best wishes to Kaifu, and Google China.