As the debate goes on about whether the micro-blogging service Twitter, the hot babe of the echo chamber known as the Silicon Valley at the moment, has become so important that uptime be damned, should be decentralised or even nationalised, or simply is not broken, the breaking news of a 7.8 earthquake in Sichaun, China is provides a crude reminder of how important Twitter really is, even in this remote corner in China.

The odd ones first heard about the news from a colleague on phone while on the way to the Cheklapkok aiport (which, by the way, is by far the best airport in the world) at 3:00pm HKT, which is about 30 minutes after the earthquake took place. I immediately pulled out my iPhone to try to verify this piece of breaking news — she’s on the way to Xi’an and an assessment to the risk is crucial before she decide whether to go or not. I know nothing beats Twitter in breaking news, even earthquake news, but at my first instinct I doubted whether Twitter could do as great for a piece of breaking news in China, where the crowd simply isn’t there. So, I tried, in succession:

All to no avail. While I was about to call it quit, I gave one last try at Tweetscan, the real-time Twitter message (“Tweets”) aggregator and search engine, and there it goes – searching for “earthquake” gives a stream of messages confirming the earthquake, together with helpful links to the USGC Earthquake Centre’s earthquake detail page. Its mobile version make it all the sweeter to the iPhone users.

Once again, Twitter trumps the rest of the world.

The biggest disappointment to me is Wikinews. I understand that they have their own editorial process, but if Wikinews is to have any winning edge over the traditional media, breaking news like this would have to an important piece, and anything that prevents breaking news from actually breaking on this site that relies heavily on citizen journalism can only do more harm than good. And, even as of the time of writing, 5 hours since the earthquake, the news is still not on the home page of Wikinews (both English version and Chinese version).

And it’s time for me to treat Twitter more seriously. (Don’t follow me on Twitter yet – it’s an embarassing void.)

Posted by: P. K. | 20th April, 2008

Spring bug

A little thing flied into the bathroom while I was taking a shower.

And I said to myself, “you won’t live beyond tomorrow. Why should I pay attention to you?”

Now I realise what must be in Chairman Mao’s mind when he said 『我们在战略上藐视吃饭』.

Posted by: mting | 14th March, 2008

Adrienne Lau

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qRi7KhCrZk

Could not imagine that Adrienne has joined the US entertainment industry for 4 years. Adrienne, who was one of our classmates, has become really famous in US!

She does not sing very well, or dance. We did laugh a bit on Adrienne during the school mates gathering on her over-exposed clothings. After so many years, when seeing her went into Top 10 at Billboard, I am really happy for her.

This little girl should have face pressures from all around the world. She appears like an American much more than the 2nd or 3rd generation ABC. Even Coco Li, or Edison Chen, or Fiona Sit, those who claim to be brought up in the States or go to HKSI, they are not as American as Adrienne. Just 3 years of university life at UCLA, she became so American! How could she transform in such a magic way? 

Adrienne must have worked really hard to get into the US entertainment industry in such a short time. She is really a legend. 

Posted by: mting | 13th March, 2008

It’s just so gambling

Today I met two old girls for lunch, and we talked about the recent returns on our pocket money investment.

We invested in funds, as we (or I) are too busy at picking good “eggs” from all the “eggs”. Too dangerous to put all the eggs in one basket, as we all know, then funds are relatively friendly to us. Due to the recent downturn, of course, we have been impacted and we all become forgetful on our fund logins and passwords to accessing our portfolio. It’s just too painful…

Suddenly remembered my experience at playing caribbean stud. Caribbean stud is easy as everyone who Chor D knows how to play it. It is a greedy game as there is so-called 3million jackpot. Also, it is controllable as players can choose to go or not to go. After the first time playing it with the oddone, I played it again with my colleagues at Macau. Gamble all depends on luck. For some reasons, I got full house and pairs very often. So lucky that when I got a pair of 4 I could still win the house with a pair of 2. Money went in quickly in half an hour. Then another colleague called us for dinner, and we left. I was left quite unwillingly, as I believe that the winning would definitely go on.

That night was really happy, that I won double of my “initial investment” when I left the casino due to that dinner.

After some while, there were other chanced playing it 2 more times, which I didn’t win or lose much. Last time I played it was back to the opening week of the Venetian. We sat at one table, with an auntie dealer, who is very “beginner” that she got difficulties at mixing the cards. Luckily there is the digital card distribution machine, which comforted us a little bit. Okay, after several rounds of the slow motion stud, I won more than double of my “initial investment”. I somehow remembered that I told myself to stop playing if I won double. Didn’t know where are those evil minds coming from, “hey, you won more than double, why just don’t gamble the delta?” Then we changed the table as there was a player smoking, and I just kept losing all those I have won, and even the initial investment in 5 rounds.

Could you imagine how much I hate myself when I left the Venetian? I just cannot resist the joy of winning, so evil that the winning moment has been so stuck in the loser’s mind which just makes you continue playing it.

I am just wondering, how many investors are still thinking of the time when HSI went to 30,000? Would these past happy old days just override the investors’ minds even though HSI has dropped down to 22,500 and the worldwide finance infrastructure is facing huge post-impacts on sub-prime?

At the Form 5 economic text book, there they draw a sine curve with ups and downs and explained it is the economic cycle. Theory and real-world always have some discrepancies – yes, there are ups and downs, but the period of ups is now getting shorter while the period of downs is getting longer. Worldwide economies are interlinked with financial markets. Derivatives under financial markets created chain effects either when there are ups and downs. Just look at “accumulators”, aka “I kill you later”, which has all those prolong effects for the poor richies. Sad for them, that they will still have 1 year to lose if their contract is of 1.5 year.

Maybe it’s just that I think too much of relating my overall gambling experience with the investment landscapes. No matter what, a BCP for my pocket-money investment shall be in place.

Posted by: mting | 12th March, 2008

Six Feet Under

Finally finished “Six Feet Under”. 5 seasons.

It added the greyness to Xi’an during those dirty snowy days. After every-day wartime, hungry and tired, and the upper muscles got all strained, still, I would watch 3 episodes per night at the hotel till 02:00am. “Six Feet Under” was very grey, very upset, but just could not stop watching it.

I hate death as everyone does. I was full of fear when my father was sick. I was so much afraid of death, and had screamed and cried when the grey pet rabbit passed away. How could I handle if one day my dearest father left us?  Those days were really difficult – when lastly needed to face it. Still, am feeling it’s very difficult.

Life is so fagile, oh, there was a dead baby abandoned in Central.  From “Six Feet Under”, all were those fragile and sad stories. It was so sudden when Nate, the leading role at the series, nearly died after an affair with his step-sister. The strange part was he woke up at the hospital, then at the night, he died suddenly with his brother fell asleep next to him and his mother was camping with her ex. People thought he will die at the first place when he fainted away after the affair, and he did not. Then when he looked okay, he died peacefully. So unexpected and so much like a life. Things always happen too unexpectedly.

I do think about to watch the whole series one more time, one more time when I am less sentimental to lives.

Posted by: P. K. | 20th February, 2008

Pre-historic hackers

If hackers do come from a different breed, then they must have existed BC. What would they do? Were they scientists, or did they paint? Would they do well at their professions, or would they find themselves unfit to the time, like what a mandarin 文人 would today?

Can you visualise a hacker you know living in ancient times? What would it be like?

Posted by: P. K. | 20th January, 2008

Web Wednesday

I was interviewed by Napoleon Biggs of Web Wednesday at the first Web Wednesday in 2008. We talked about new year resolutions, EditGrid and other stuffs.

The podcasts are available online. Part 1 of 2 (the interview starts at around 9′):

powered by ODEO

And here is part 2 of 2 (the end of the podcasts proves that I am no technical person):

powered by ODEO

Enjoy.

Posted by: P. K. | 21st December, 2007

Hayao Miyazaki and England

There are, roughly speaking, typically two distinct classes of settings in Hayao Miyazaki‘s animes that the odd ones have had the pleasure of watching. Class A involves a pretty countryside in eternal tranquility, as seen in the quiet neighbourhood of Totoro, Laputa in Laputa and, to the best knowledge of the odd ones, Princess Mononoke, which the odd ones have never had the fortune, despite numerous attempts, to complete watching. On the other hand, the dirty, inharmonious, heavily-industrialised urban slum of Class B feature prominently in many Miyazaki films: the towns in Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service and, indeed, Laputa.

Am reading Chapter 8: There Always Was an England of:

The English的圖像

where two different images of “the England” in the mind the English is discussed and contrasted. The first image is the fantasy best epitomised by Stanley Baldwin‘s depiction of

“… [t]he sounds of England, the tinkle of the hammer on the anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of a plough team coming over the brow of a hill …”

while the second image is the reality of the hideous cities and towns in England which resulted from the rapid development and expansion in the industrial revolution during the Victorian eta, a picture of

“blackened buildings, streets rank with rubbish and shit, stinking rivers and vermin-infested tenements”

as painted by Friedrich Engels in The Condition of the Working Class in England.

What’s striking is how both depictions remind strongly of the typical Miyazaki settings. The reader shall examine by oneself whether this citation, from the beginning of The Gamekeeper at Home by Richard Jefferies, is reminiscent of the scene in Totoro where Totoro is first seen:

“The keeper’s cottage stands in a sheltered ‘combe’, or narrow hollow of the woodlands, oversahdowed by a mighty Spanish chestnut, bare now of leaves, but in summer a noble tree.”

whereas the Coketown in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times provides the reality check:

It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sounds upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and tomorrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next.

Posted by: mting | 12th November, 2007

Shanghai

Going to shanghai is an all sudden decision. A quick decision yet a late one. As a shanghainese, who cant hear and speak the dialect, has been longed going to the hometown. Finally, I am here.

I was impressed when shanghai surrounded me at the east pearl tower. Classical shang-hai-tan buildings listed at the bund, while the modern office buildings were built intensively at the pudong side. There were also a lot of constructions going on. Shanghai is flying fast.

At 80’s, hong kong’s economy was booming in a ‘dragon’ way. While shanghai today is booming in ‘9-dragon’ ways. Xin Tian Di has caught up Lan Kwai Fong in terms of price (but not services). There is also Times square, and in the future will have an IFC. There are also Zara and H&M. I am sure Lao wai who used to live in hong kong prefers living in shanghai instead of hong kong. The bottomline reason is at least they are not called as ghost anymore, and they are regarded as king / queen from locals.

It looks like everything is great. However when we talked to the taxi driver, about  the government scheme of rebuilding old areas, he told us, “as Lao ba shing, life is hard. RMB200K will be given to the old area resident for each flat, but then they would not be able to live in the city center again as flat is too expensive. They need to move to far far away… Well, city center is only for the people who can speak english.”

Sad to hear that. The high-speed economy has sacrificed the locals of lower education level.

Posted by: P. K. | 22nd September, 2007

The iPhone experiment

象箸則必犀玉之杯、旄象豹胎。是次:

  1. Unlimited GPRS data plan (PEOPLES?).
  2. Home WiFi (FON?).
  3. Mac OS X 10.4.10 or above in order to use iTunes at home. Or shall I wait for Leopard?
  4. A new pair of earphones which fits (the B&O A8 connector is a bit too thick for the iPhone at the entrance, and has already been taken to repair once).
  5. And a bluetooth speaker, assuming that the above works.

稱此以求,則天下不足矣。故見象著而怖。

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