ThinkPad to Dell Latitude E4300

After using IBM ThinkPad X60 for three years, I finally switched back to Dell. The reason I am using “Back” is, my first laptop is a very big Dell laptop, and I am a Dell user for several years, when I worked in Microsoft. Only after Baixing did we start to use IBM. The reason I used “ThinkPad” not IBM is, I don’t know how I should address it – it is no longer IBM ThinkPad.

I did the comparison between IBM and Dell in my previous post, and found out Dell offers better quality, better service, and relatively the same level of product as the current ThinkPad.

In the competitive market, any small change can be quickly picked up by end users, and shift from one vendor to another – the beauty of market!

I am a Hotel Tester

During this trip, I used a strategy to change to a different hotel every one or two days depending on the price, and my meeting location, to optimize for both budget, and diversity of my stay, and get some idea about what is the best hotel fitting my needs. Here are the list:

2/20 – 2/21 via Expedia, Travelodge Palo Alto, $67, 3945 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

2/21 – 2/22 via Expedia, Creekside Inn, $79, 3400 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

2/22 – 2/24 via Expedia, Comfort Inn, Palo Alto $94 3945 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

2/24 – 2/25 via Hotwire, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Belmont $54 1650 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA, 94002

2/25 – 2/26 via Priceline, Holiday Inn, San Jose 1740 North First Street, San Jose, CA 95112

2/26 – 2/28 via Tina, Kingswood Village, $30, 1001 Commonwealth Dr., Lake Tahoe

2/28 – 3/2 via Hotwire, Crowne Plaza, San Francisco Airport, $67 1177 Airport Boulevard, Burlingame, CA 94010

OK. Here is the payload: My reviews. Interestingly, Comfortable Inn is my favorite place to stay. That was a surprising finding during this trip.

2 Star Hotels: Super 8, Comfort Inn, Travelodge

The lowest end of all the places I stayed in are the three: Super 8 (I stayed for few nights the last trip), Travelodge, and Comfort Inn – they all look similar. Their locations are not at inter-state highway in Palo Alto, and the have a L shape building with two floors, leaving the large space as parking lot. These hotels are small, with one part-time reception (not 24 hour service) at the entrance, and all the rest are hotel rooms. They offer breakfast – bread + orange juice… To me, the three hotels are of the same level. Actually, they are the same: 2 star in the hotel rating system.

The difference is, Comfort Inn offers much better quilt than the other two. I was frozen to wake up several times during the night. The quilt is as thick as paper – pardon my exaggerated statement. The quilt of Comfort Inn is relatively the same standard as Creekside Inn, Holiday Inn…

2.5 Star Hotels: Holiday Inn and 3.5 Star Hotels: Creekside Inn, Crowne Plaza

I stayed in two Holiday Inn, one in Fremont, and another in San Jose. They are, as my personal experience, Holiday Inn standard. Holiday Inn Express offer free parking, and free breakfast. The Holiday Inn San Jose offers, in their term, full service breakfast, which is , my term, expense breakfast.

All these hotels have huge buildings and many guest rooms. It is a maze to navigate with just a room number + a map (on which the reception was kind enough to place a dot indicating my room). The guest room is for sure far from the parking lot, and some includes stairs and elevator trips.

Crowne Plaza even charged $16 for over night parking, and $9.99 for Internet access – robery!

I hate Super 8 and Travelodge because it is noisy – the key driver for me to look for other hotels to stay, but these higher star hotels are even more noisy.

Super 8, Travelodge, and Comfort Inn are along El Camino Real, the main local road, and Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza are facing US-101! When the busiest highway in the area running outside your bedroom window, it is not going to be quiet night.

Convenient vs Luxurious

At the end of the day, I started to appreciate hotels that is

  • Simple (simple design and simple facility that I can understand at a glance)
  • Small (with limited hotel rooms, that I can access my door easily)
  • Free parking, Internet, and breakfast. (Free is not just free, it is convenient. I don’t need to talk with reception, waiting for a code to be delivered before I use parking or internet.)
  • Local (I would rather be close to a local community, rather at a transportation hub that no one besides travelers stay)

Finally, after sampling all the hotels, the dream of fancy hotels faded out. I know what I need – a simple place like Comfort Inn is what I need. The next step is to find a way to book at below $50. (any ideas?)

That gave me the inspiration of product design – a simple, easy to understand, and free product / service is better for most people, than a fancy, full-function, luxurious one.

Yifan’s Stories

I don’t know why, when I am back, Yifan put all his toys into two big boxes, and asked his mom: “Would you please hide them so dad cannot find it?” What is in his mind to hide his toys from dad?

In the morning, Yifan kept asking me where I want to take his train to go. His stops are his familiar places like Shanghai, Luoyang, Beijing…. I told him, I am going to Rio de Janeiro. Yifan just smiled and cannot follow the difficult city name. Disappointed, he went to mom and ask where mom wanted to go, and mom said: “Amsterdam” – another way too difficult name for him to pronounce. He just know some simple names. Then he asked grandpa, and the answer he got was Buenos Aires…. Yifan was completely confused. Everyone burst into laughter.

Breakfast Meeting in Shanghai

Are you serious to have breakfast meeting in Shanghai? Think twice before you make the appointment.

I never really understand why people would think of the crazy idea of having breakfast meeting in Shanghai. I received the invitation for some times, but always rejected it.

Why Breakfast Meeting is Good in the Valley

When I am in the valley, I found it so nice to have breakfast meetings. There are some benefits:

1. Breakfast in many places are nice – especially the brunch along the University Ave in Palo Alto and a nice restaurant famous for its brunch in Berkeley. People enjoy the scrambled eggs and coffee in fresh morning.

2. Commute. The early breakfast is very likely to be at some convenient place along the way to work for both parties. They may drive and stop by a cafe, to have breakfast together – they will have it at home anyway, and then drive on to their own work place. If you raise early, the traffic are generally better.

3. Dinner, and Lunch are too time consuming. Compared to breakfast, which is like the time for a cup of coffee, it is perfect for catchup, instead of serious discussion.

Why Breakfast Meeting is Bad in Shanghai

1. Most of places does not serve breakfast in the decent way. In Shanghai, the popular place serving breakfast is soup, dumplings. The street eateries often does not offer seats, or the seats is very crowded, not a decent place to meet. Hotels offering continental breakfast are very likely to be full service and expensive. There are not many nice and lite places for people to gather. (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf started to offer scrambled eggs, which is good)

2. Transpiration is so bad. No matter how early it is, it is still in terrible traffic, that people want to avoid. Since in Shanghai, people basically don’t drive in downtown, and even people drive, the parking can be much more troublesome than park at free public 2 hour parking space in downtown Palo Alto, or Mountain View…

3. People prefer dinner over breakfast. The night life is actually the starting point for many people in Shanghai. The best meal in Shanghai is obviously in the dinner time.

Environment Matters

It is not the culture that makes the difference – it is mainly the history and the environment that shape people’s behavior.

Jet Lag Builds Early Raiser

Jet lag is good thing for me. Whenever in US, or back to Shanghai, jet lag drives me wake up earlier and then I became an early raiser for some days. Thus I have enough time to write more blogs (helping me to get clearer idea about my world, and comprehend the message I got). It is just like an effective “Raise Early” medicine. But the problem is, the effect gets less significant along the day, and I will fade into normal life.

Is there any way to simulate jet lag?

My Passion to Second Tier Cities

In a private dinner at Goldman Sachs Internet and Technology Conference, I was asked to share a great idea with the accomplished investors, CEOs, and journalists. This is my idea:

Put all your money in the second tier cities in China! 10 cities in China is building their first metro system today, and they are connected by high-speed train system already. The Chinese version of Eisenhower national road system is also completed even before the economy stimulate plan, connecting these cities together. With the jump-start transportation system, talents, and capital will flow from first tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing to the second tier cities in the next 10 years. Think about what you can do in these booming cities: real estate, business, manufacture, outsourcing…

My passion and optimist for the second tier cities is real. The recent Hainan trip, and Wendy’s recent trip back to Henan all sent a clear message to me: the second tier cities are where the opportunity lies. Shanghai has became less and less competitive because of the expensive living cost, making it less attractive to talents.

When I met Yang Meng who just got back from his home town in Changsha in Palo Alto, he shared exactly the same thing with me. His high-school friends all went back to Changsha from big cities, to start their business there. He wrote a great blog about it: Golden Decade for Second Tier Cities (In Chinese).

Wendy and I went back to Nanyang years ago, and found out the highway with road plate G40 and G45 – one connect the city to Shanghai and Xi’an, and another connecting it to Guangzhou, and north China. All these roads were newly built. Wendy drove along the highway in the more recent trip, and reported back – there are no cars on it yet. When third cities like Nanyang gets connected to second tier cities, it makes the second tier cities more competitive with the vast supply of labor, resources, and market.

What do you think?

Wind Blows West to East

This trip helped me to understand some basic weather phenomenon – the wind at the surface of the earth.

West to East along 31-37 degree in Latitude

In this article, I asked meteorology question: how come bay area is so warm when its latitude is as high as 37 °, it is warmer in the winter than Shanghai, which is just a little bit north of 31°? As my readers pointed it out, it is because the wind.

At that latitude, wind mainly blows from the west to east. Shanghai is cold in winters because the wind from the west is from the mainland, and is cold in nature. The wind for the bay area is from above the pacific ocean. The huge water body makes the air stable in temperature – cool in summer, and warm in winter, and makes that area much warmer and comfortable than Shanghai.

Cross Pacific Flight

The wind also solved another puzzle I had: why it takes longer to fly from SFO back to PVG (12 hours), than from PVG to SFO (10 hours)?

This time, with this knowledge, I paid attention to the real time broadcast of speed on board. From west to east, there are always 150 km/h tailing wind, making the airplane ground speed about 1,000 km/h (10,000 km distance divided by 1,000 is about 10 hours). On the return flight, the head wind is 150 km/h, making the ground speed 750 km/hour, thus cost about 12 hours.

This is the Simplified Answer

This is just the simplified answer of complicated meteorology. I researched on Wikipedia on this, and found many articles on this. The actual wind flows are very complicated, and vary greatly by latitude, and time. I just don’t care about other wind, like those in the south sphere. The simplified answer, wind blows from west to east, works at least for this time, and at this latitude.

The Scare of Shanghai Heals

One part of travel is to see the other side of the world (like my recent two travels), and the other interesting part is to leave Shanghai for 10 days and get back to see how things change quickly. It is always good to get a reasonable distance from daily life, and when back, you discover more changes than you are always there.

This time, the change is the roads.

In preparation of Shanghai Expo 2010, which is just 2 months away, huge constructions spread out through out the city. That includes new elevated highways, improvement of current roads, and new metro stations. In early or March, many of the constructions are completed, and the scare of the city heals quickly, and perfectly.

Zhaojiabang Road

Zhaojiabang Road 肇嘉浜路 is one of the road that is impacted most. The 7 something new metro stations make it almost impossible to navigate, and delays directly caused our decision to move from Pudong to Puxi.

I took a taxi yesterday. The same road is back to its original status, and even better. The road is newly paved, and the lanes were marked with freshly painted white lines. That kind of “brand new” feeling is so strong, that I just would love to drive my cars there. The metro station is finished leaving many exits with Metro signs.

Other Roads

The other roads I paid particular attending includes the South Yanggao Road 杨高南路, and Longyang Road 龙阳路. The elevated highway and viaducts were completed, and the crowded roads suddenly become pretty empty with the new addition of the same size of capacity (but without red lights).

Good. Good. Shanghai started to become charming again.

Travelogue of Tahoe

On Sunday, we were back from Tahoe with just 3 hours and a half on the road – comparing to the 9 hours on snowy Friday night, it is much better. When I finally find time to sit down, I can start to write a travelogue about my trip to Tahoe.

Where is Tahoe

Although most people in the States should know where it is, it worth some time to tell other readers where the beautiful lake is.

It is 200 miles east of San Francisco, at the border of California and Nevada.


The transpiration is pretty straight forward – take the I-80 from San Francisco, passing the Bay Bridge, and drive all the way to the east for 180 miles, and take CA-237. Then you are there.

You cannot Ski without Snow

On the way to Tahoe, it snowed heavily, and it was the most heavy snow I experienced in recent years. Look at the photos below and imagine the snow!

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Jian Shuo Wang

Photograph by Peng Linlin

Photograph by Peng Linlin

It took us 9 hours to get there.

The Shining Sky with Snow

The Ski Field

Look at the nice ski field. It is obviously bigger than the indoor ski in Shanghai.

We took the lift up to the top of the mountain.

My First Fall

I started with a mild slope, and the speed went up so quick, that I had no choice but to run into the side snow to stop. Look at the first fall: The both ski completely get into the snow, and it took me quiet some time to get out.

My Legs!

For entry-level skier like me, I used all the effort to ski as slow as possible, thus using the ski as brake from the top of the mountain to the bottom. My legs just got so tired that it started to hurt, and I have to stop from time to time in the middle of the slope. When other more skillful guys camp and eat energy stick on the top of the mountain, I had a nice pizza near the Ritz-Carlton.


When we skied in the afternoon, it snowed heavily. I took the time to take a picture of the snow covered mountain and the snow before I rush down the slope.

Taken from the middle of the mountain

Finishing the Great Ski Journey

At the time when Village Express stops operation, we have been on the slop for 5 hours.

Photo taken by a nice girl near us

Wrapping up 2010 Winter Trip

I am back to the comfortable bed in my home in Shanghai. The 10 days trip, as every previous trips, is wonderful for me – just like Alice’s Adventure in the Wonderland.

I did a quick summary in my Moleskine notebook, and found the following data:

People I meet in depth during this trip: 50 (criteria: spent at least one hour together and had in-depth discussion, and I know their background well, and they know mine well)

Total meetings: 26

Meeting locations: San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose, Mountain View, Menlo Park

I am happy to meet the greatest minds of the silicon valley – they are founders of best Internet companies, investors of great track record, and outstanding people from fields like lawyer, finance, and journalism.

Besides that, I attended three relatively larger conference: GSR Ventures New Year Party, Goldman Sachs Internet and Technology Conference, Tsinghua University Alumni Tech Talk, and Stanford Chinese Entrepreneur Organization Dinner. I fit well into the Chinese community and global community, and got great inspiration.

Jian Shuo Wang in Forbes

What happens these days. After the New York Times article about this little blog, Forbes named this little me as Nine Young Chinese Entrepreneurs To Watch (picture edition). It is a little bit surprising and embarrassing, since when Hannah Seligson emailed back and forth about the description, I didn’t know it was under this title. The title in my brain is “Lifestyle of Chinese young man”…

Anyway, thanks Hannah, and Forbes for the article. It did generate some congratulations emails in my inbox, but I just want to put a disclaimer here for the record: it is not a real ranking, just some “sample” of entrepreneurs, and I happened to have mutual friends with the kind author.