I've been unimpressed with the Google Glass and "iWatch" prototypes that have been going around recently. It keeps popping into my head - is this the best they can come up with? Think back to the iPhone - it was sexy and interesting and incredible, but actually, the thing about it that I just had to use was the swipe and pinch for photos. It was just something unbelievably cool, like Minority Report or something. The Google Glass hasn't had ...Three businesses I wish I'd started 5 years ago in China
The title kind of says it all really, doesn't it? These are things that I wish I'd done with the gift of hindsight or wish I could do with a time-travelling Delorian. Sell milk powder Chinese people are crazy for imported milk powder. There's a bunch of reasons: firstly, of course, people are scared of buying domestically produced milk powder because of the melamine scandals a few years back. But there's three other powerful reasons: Chinese grandparents are massively involved ...Comparing the UK and China; who comes up short?
For various reasons, I've been revisiting some of my more ingrained attitudes towards China in a new light. Particularly, with the new arrival and more and more scandals in the UK, it's made me really think about the actual material differences between China and the UK. In China, I've oscillated wildly between love and hate. Sometimes it's big things like censorship, lack of freedoms or corruption. Other times its small things like being forced to listen to Chinese people hock ...Adding internal page links to Django-CKEditor
For a bunch of new Django webprojects, I've switched from using TinyMCE to the excellent CKEditor. The reason? Easy out-of-the-box file uploads and image embedding. The problem though? Internal page links... One of the big missing pieces of CKEditor is the lack of ability to easily make links to pages / objects within your Django installation - for example, quickly seeing a list of available Flatpages and clicking to add an href, instead of typing it manually. So my solution ...Searching for Yong Chun Kung Fu
Last August I got roped into 'acting' in a short film for the Yong Chun tourism bureau. Hopefully it's the end of my movie career... The movie was fun to make, and took about 2 days of my time (and another 5-7 days of the film crew's time). Each aspiring tourist destination in Fujian Province has made one of these short flicks to help promote tourism across the province - for Yong Chun, they decided to rely on their local ...Taobao's absolutely gigantic day of sales
Two days ago the Chinese website taobao.com held a discount promotion to celebrate what's known as 'double sticks day' in China. In a single 24hr period, they conducted 19bn RMB (US$3.06bn) of business. The figure is a world record - apparently, the closest competitor was 2011 Cyber Monday in the US, where total sales across all retailers was $1.25bn (comScore). Taobao already ranks 12 in the list of top global websites (Alexa), but the record sales mark a highwater-point for ...The greatest thing about China? Its tax code.
The last few weeks I've started and scrapped more blog posts than I care to remember. Most were negative rants about China, but the one I've finally decided to write is about the strangest of things - China's tax code. If there's one thing that deserves exceptional praise in China, it's the supremely morally satisfying way in which tax is collected (yep, I said "morally satisfying" and "China" in the same sentence!): Individuals pay very little tax Large organisations pay ...What does China gain from its bad PR?
Ever since the Chinese government embarked on its 'soft power' drive to improve the image and influence of China internationally, bloggers and critics have been feasting on the never-ending supply of appalling PR flops. But I wonder if they really are such failures? The latest banana-slip, an attempt by a consulate general to pressure a small-town American to remove a mural depicting Tibet and Taiwan independence messages has attracted attention. It's not the first: in just the last few months ...Gold! Two medals in the 2012 Zheng Cheng Gong traditional kung fu competition!
And the winner is.... me! I just returned proudly from the 2nd Annual Zheng Cheng Gong kung fu competition near Quanzhou with two gold medals around my neck! In the competition I performed a freehand pattern called 鸭子潭水 (ya zi tan shui, literally, the duck plays in the water) and a staff pattern called 太公钓鱼 (tai gong diao yu, lit. grandfather fishing). These are both patterns from Su Ying Han's traditional Yong Chun White Crane system. I was representing the ...Basic example of Shipwire API with Django (Python)
I remember when I was looking around for integration with the Shipwire API with my Django app, there weren't many examples - so here's one I made myself. This is a request to their RateRequest API, where you pass an address, and it returns with a cost to ship the product from your stock. import urllib import urllib2 import xml.etree.ElementTree as etree def calculate_shipping(request, order_id): order = get_object_or_404(Order, id=order_id) sw_password = settings.SHIPWIRE_PASSWORD sw_username = settings.SHIPWIRE_USERNAME sw_url = settings.SHIPWIRE_SHIPPING_URL # this ...China loses another blogger...
The incisive blogger Charles Custer (from chinageeks.org) has announced he'll be leaving - it doesn't make a difference to me, but it seems sad that China seems to push away people it should value. Firstly, I don't know Charles, other than random comments on his blog or reddit.com/r/china, but it still feels like a personal shame that he's left. As well as possibly losing some of his great commentary on social issues in China (although it might be easier to ...Deposit - a new word in the 2012 Chinese dictionary
It might come as a surprise, but the word "deposit" (收付) has only just been entered into the Chinese equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary. Well, of course, the generic word deposit isn't new - there's lots of forms in Chinese like 押金 (ya jin) which mean 'deposit' in other situations. But when taken in relation to house-buying, it's a relatively new word in Chinese. Although house-buying is nothing new, the traditional idiom in China has been for an individual ...Fuzhou Women's Fist kung fu - Guo Kong Xi
When I first started getting seriously interested in Chinese martial arts, I came across quite a special guy in videos and articles who performed 'Women's Style' kung fu: Guo Kong Xi (郭孔熙). Below is a translation of his obituary (original in Chinese here) from 05 Feb 2003, as well as a video (quite rare) of his style available on sina.com: Old Guo (Mr Guo) was from Fuzhou's Gai Shan Guo Zhai Village (盖山郭宅村). From a young age he was passionate ...What role do foreign nations play in China's corruption?
It occurred to me this week that foreign nations such as my own (Britain) have some complicity in corruption in China - because we unquestioningly accept immigrants who have money. Consider these two news extracts from the past couple of weeks: "...800 billion Chinese yuan ($126 billion at today's exchange rate) had been siphoned overseas by thousands of officials in the government and state-owned companies from the mid-1990s until 2008. Another report ...which tracked illicit outflow of money by all ...Five years in China - frustrations and breakthroughs!
I've spent about 5 years in China now, and just as the frustration and anti-foreigner bullshit hits a peak, I've found a bit of zen-like calm too. Although life here has been great the last 5 years, it has to be said that a big portion of my time here has been spent angry or frustrated with the country and people. I don't believe anyone who says China is an easy place to live, and at some point or another ...Back from Yong Chun - still not a kung fu master :(
I just got back from Yong Chun, after a great couple of weeks studying Yong Chun White Crane kung fu with Master Su Ying Han. This was I think the 5th or 6th occasion I've spent time training with Master Su. He and my master in the UK, Dennis Ngo, share a common lineage, so many of the moves and principles are similar enough for us to pick it up quickly, but different enough for it to be challenging. As ...Lesbian dumplings - a lesson in branding
Struggling with your brand / key messages / communications? Take a lesson from a small local business just started here in Fuzhou. Play along here - I want you to forget your product benefits, forget your USP or key messages or whatever else you would put in your 30 second elevator pitch, and concentrate on only this: Lesbian Dumplings. For a while now, I've been trying to distill my business into words: words that I can communicate simply and quickly ...XinJiang people in Fuzhou
Migrants from Xin Jiang are treated pretty poorly in Fuzhou - if there's an equivalent from my own experience, it's the treatment of gypsies in the UK. Recently the issue of Xin Jiang people in Fuzhou has boiled over, with lots of public outcrying on Weibo for 'something to be done'. The common perception is that the pu tao gan ("grape skins", a not so friendly nick-name for Xin Jiang people here) are engaged in theft, violence, rape and intimidation, ...Why tea companies should move to simple pricing models
I walked into two different tea shops in Fuzhou today to check out competing products from two luxury tea brands here. The conversations went roughly like this: Shop A:"Yes, we have that tea - it is 300 RMB for 100g." Shop B:"Yes, we have that tea - we have 125g for 450RMB, 200g for 350RMB, 95g for 1500RMB, 140g for 870 RMB...." Which one do you think I bought? I've concentrated on avoiding complicated weight and price packages for www.minrivertea.com ...