The new blogspot

I love the new blogger user interface called blogger draft: user friendly, easy to use, all the options. As such, you see the new josekin blog page. Something I could definitely show my colleagues. It always amazes me how Google puts out free and good products all the time, and trusts that more Internet means more money for Google. Arrogance, perhaps? Or just simply too much cash?

Sadly, Google has left China after refusing to censor its searches in accordance with Chinese law. Even more sadly, my life becomes much more difficult when I cannot access Google in a timely fashion. Google maybe a distant #2 to China's Baidu, but for professionals, Google results are far far far better than Baidu's. Arg. Just have to patient with the on again off again Google pages.

I disagree with Google's decision. Their mere presence has helped many people find information they otherwise wouldn't have found. If "do no evil" is truly your purpose, by your leaving actually encourages evil. At the same time, I'm sad that the Chinese government still has to censor results. Can't trust the people to make their own judgments huh?


Taiwan Documentary

Watched the premiere of a Taiwan Documentary on an author's book - 龙应台‘s 目送一九四九。

I've heard that the book is really good. I will read it in the future. James got a signed copy, so I guess I'll grab that off him at some point.

The documentary, in my opinion, wasn't that good. It really just tried to record the writing of the book... I understand that a documentary should be recording the facts, but I also think that it should have a point of view. With many many heart-felt moments of people who have had their lives turned up-side-down by a invasion followed by a civil war, there were plenty of opportunities to tell a story. I don't buy the director's view that "we don't want to tell you what is right or wrong; we want to present you the facts and leave you to draw your own conclusions". The whole thing was just put together with no real theme or story.

What did impress me was the amount of Mainland students who turned out for the event. They all came ready: read all the books, had all the questions, and were very well spoken during the Q&A. As the author said herself, the most important is to have a critical mind and find your own answers. I hope these students at least took that away from the premiere.

I still would encourage people to watch the documentary. It has a lot of heart-felt and touching moments. Just don't expect too much. And read the book if you can.


Alice in Wonderland

Geez... tough weekend. First an awful experience at restaurant SML. Now Alice in Wonderland (IMDB).

Remember I wrote about movies in 3D before (plus a brief review on Avatar)? Basically, I thought the customer experience wasn't good enough - and probably best suited for kids and teenagers. Alice in Wonderland doesn't qualify for either.

Even if it were regular price for a 2D experience, I still wouldn't like the movie. It was all show and no substance, even with Tim Burton at the helm and Johnny Depp leading the charge. First, the show: the sets were stunning, depicting a Wonderland that is fantastic... from the different characters to the dreaming castles and woods. Then, the substance: not much of a story, and you can't blame the original short story either since Burton made this a continuation story (Alice is 18 or something). Not much of character development. Not much of anything really.

Somehow, I get the feeling that the studios figured they could ride the 3D wave a bit and push anything 3D with some big names down our throats. Damn. Very soon, audiences are going to wise up and reject paying this type of premium mediocre movies.

Not recommended.


Awful restaurant...

Okay, I found a restaurant that sank lower than Aquavit (see experience during restaurant week a while ago).

It's an establishment called SML in Times Square. SML stands for Small Medium Large, which are sizes available for all their dishes. I think the owners had this in mind:
  • Shitty deal
  • Medium shitty deal
  • Large shitty deal
Anyway, the food was acceptable in general. It was my second visit (I knew I shouldn't have gone in... but I had a good reason, see below)

Mom and I arrived at SML at 9pm, after all other restaurants in Times Square had a line outside (9pm!). The server showed us an outdoor space that looked quite comfy... sure, we'll sit there. 1. I need food. 2. It has a nice breeze.

You have to place your order inside (they can't serve people in open space, which is not part of the restaurant). Fine. We ordered two pasta and a dessert. The dessert came within a minute. Doesn't make sense, but it can sit and wait for the pasta, I guess. Mom's pasta came (okay, a bit salty) first, and we waited for mine. And waited. And waited. I told mom to go ahead and eat hers first. Went back to the cashier to ask about the pasta. He said must have lost the order and went to the kitchen to hurry it up. 10 minutes later, I'm still waiting. So I canceled the order, wolfed down the dessert, and left. No real food in my stomach, I lost all my appetite.

It's Friday, and all I want is a decent meal with my mom, and SML ruined it. I will never go back there ever.


Late marriage

As I looked through the employee manual... if you "marry early," you are entitled to 3 days of vacation. If you have a "late marriage," you are entitled to 13 days of vacation. Naturally, I quickly look up what is the definition of "late marriage"...

After 25. Damn!



It's been a while since I've seen a really good Hong Kong movie. This award winning film (Crystal Bear at Berlin Film Fest) would qualify in the really good club. I love the simple story being manifested in the most simple and subtle ways. Simple, like how the family had to physically keep their home together through the typhoon (hurricane, for you Americans). Subtle, like the the communication of the whole street was through one phone in the garment shop, or like how the tree trunk is used as a table during dinner. Nothing over the top. Just life.

And so life keeps going on, and you just keep faith.

A special thanks to the actors who did a magnificent job, especially the mother and the younger son. Impeccable performances.

The movie almost died midway due to insufficient funds... and now it's going to make a lot of money due to the award and the curiosity caused. So my question is, why did it have to be an award for a movie to be recognized and rightfully profit from its hard work? Should the "goodness" of the movie be able to help it sell tickets in the first place?

Sigh, Hong Kong.


Squat toilets...

Something that continues to bring a smile to my face for no rational reason whatsoever is the squat toilets in my new office. For those who are unfamiliar with a squat toilet, just image the toilet seat on the ground. It's not that bad or disgusting... it's just different way of going.

Anyway, before my first day, during my interviews, I've used the standing toilets before and they are quite nice, with a large window that overlooks the entire Nanshan area (Shenzhen's version of Silicon Valley, if you will).

So on my first day of work, when I was ready for the stall, I was shocked to see a squat toilet upon opening the door. I opened another one: squat. And another: squat. And another: squat. That's 4 out of 5... arg... I was so disappointed that I just went back to my desk. I'm not squatting with my nice suit and shirt on.

Fast forward to my 7th day of work. We're meeting a foreign firm, and I went to the meeting floor - again, shocked to see that they have a sitting toilet!!!

Turns out the 5th stall I didn't open was the sitting toilet. Haha.


Starting a job at Tencent, Shenzhen

Well, if you've read this post about Bills Gates interviewing me and the actual disaster, then you might have figured out that I'm heading to some sort of tech firm. That firm is Tencent QQ, the MSN/Facebook/Twitter of China. You might laugh at Facebook's current valuation of $11B (see range), but Tencent is no laughing matter, publicly traded and valued at ~$35B.

Anyway, today was the first day of work. And here comes the obligatory Good Bad and Ugly:

The Good

  • I have to leave the company at 630 to catch the shuttle bus back to the HK border; so, yeah, I now have a natural time to get off work
  • No lap top, no Blackberry
  • The team seemed very nice, and things seemed efficient (the internal portal has so much info it's a bit overwhelming)
The Bad
  • How can no Blackberry be good!?
  • I don't understand why the wall of a cell has to be against the window. Can I saw off the cell wall?
  • Food options are going to be extremely limited... unless I'm brave enough to eat on the streets

And the Ugly

  • It's a 1.5 hour commute minimum
  • And the most painful part is the immigration. Rule #1: don't be a foreigner. Rule #2: don't line up behind clueless old people