Tuesday, February 19. 2013
A few weeks ago I got interviewed by Shanghai TV about the Shanghai hackerspace 新车间 (XinCheJian) that I'm part of. In the interview I demonstrate one of the hacks I did, using a TP-Link router to open the machine room.
(No, that's not actually the password for our machine room.)
@GBlock also has a video on the hack on his Vimeo page.
Tuesday, January 5. 2010
For some reason none of my domains DNS names resolve to IP addresses anymore. I wonder if it has something to do with China's new policy, see China Imposes New Internet Controls.
It basically boils down to this: domain names will not be resolved to IP addresses, unless you register your domain (even your foreign domain) with the Chinese authorities.
Now I'm no expert in population control and have to admire the Chinese goverment for their expertise on the subject, but I don't think that the power of the young generation of Chinese should be underestimated. I mean, even when my former colleagues would follow a link to a blocked website they would get mad. Now imagine if suddenly the World Of Warcraft servers would be inaccessible.
For the moment, let's hope this is a temporary glitch in my ISP's DNS service.
UPDATE: Screw that, even google.com cannot be resolved. I've just entered the IPs of some US DNS servers in my router configuration. This Chinese DNS service is crap anyway.
UPDATE2: I'm now using 22.214.171.124, Google Public DNS
UPDATE3: No I'm not
Friday, July 24. 2009
Friday, May 22. 2009
Monday, January 26. 2009
Or actually, this year it's Happy 牛 Year! 牛 is the character for ox/cow and is pronounced niu, yes, like new. And let me completely ruin the joke by underlining that it's the year of the ox. Get it? Funny, huh?
Anyway, enjoy the fireworks. We had the same kind of view from our apartment last night:
Oh, and my site got blocked! I have to use VPN to access it. Perhaps it's because of my previous post about Tibet, but I'm linking to their freakin' site for God's sake!
Tuesday, December 9. 2008
This post is long overdue. By now, I must have explained how to write Chinese characters to several of my friends. Story of my life: postpone writing a document/post until after realizing that the time spent explaining the same thing over and over roughly equals 10x the time it would take to write the document.
I'd like to make this post the first in a series about the oddities of living in China. That is, about the oddities that I still notice after having lived here for 10 months.
Part 1: How to write Chinese
If you're like me you've often wondered how the Chinese are able to use a keyboard with 5000+ keys. Allow me to clear it up: they don't. Chinese characters (and characters of other strange scripts) are written using a piece of software called an Input Method Editor or IME. The IME converts keystrokes (from a normal* keyboard) into the actual character.
To type Chinese, the user just enters the Latin characters corresponding to each character's pinyin representation. Pinyin is a way of writing Chinese syllables using the Latin alphabet and is more or less based on the character's pronunciation. Because there are many different characters with the same pronunciation, the IME will show a list of all possible characters, from which the right character must be selected pressing a key from 1 to 9. Smart IMEs can even convert a whole string of Latin characters into a sensible sentence using a dictionary of common word combinations (similar to T9). You know who has a big dictionary of word combinations in any language? Right: Google. That's why they created their own IME.
nihao in Google IME
In this picture I typed "nihao". Google's IME shows the list of possible characters, with the most probable one first. Indeed, the characters meaning "you good" (the common greeting) are shown as the first option. The second option also represents "nihao" but has a different character for "ni" (I have no idea what that "ni" means). All other options only show characters for "ni", and after selection the user would be presented with a new list with all options for "hao". Also note the arrows pointing up/down: apparently there are more than 9 options for "nihao" so using Page Up and Page Down the user can cycle through all different characters.
This all sounds very complicated and tedious, but is very easy in practice. Just as with T9, it's important that the IME has a good representative dictionary so its first guess is the right one. Many times it's possible to type a complete Chinese sentence in pinyin without having to manually select any option from the list of characters. It gets tricky when the sentence contains non-Chinese words (for which you need to turn the IME off and back on) or proper names (for which the IME cannot guess the characters, although it will remember them for later.)
* yes, even though I'm Dutch and Dutch has its own keyboard layout, I don't know anyone who uses it so for me the US keyboard layout is normal
Sunday, December 7. 2008
...that the the official Beijing 2008 game is not available in mainland China.
I've been trying to find out where I can buy an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3, but it seems that ones that are being sold in China are 'imported' from Hong Kong. Imagine how silly I feel for not having brought one from Hong Kong two weeks ago.
And what's even more odd: the Xbox 360 is actually being produced in China.
Friday, September 26. 2008
From Xinhua today:
"A father complained about tainted milk powder after his 13-year-old daughter developed kidney stones after drinking the powdered milk in May. The Department of Health of Gansu Province received a hospital's report of 16 infants suffering from kidney stones after drinking the same formula in July.
It's absolutely unbelievable that babies die in this country because of the fuzzy food regulations and lack of proper checks. That said, at least responsible authority figures are held accountable and do step down, which is not a common thing at all in several other countries I won't specify here. Pity though they only take up responsibility once their lust for power leads to accidents so severe that people will have to find out about them.
BTW, Why don't Chinese women breastfeed.
Monday, August 25. 2008
Tuesday, August 5. 2008
Finally, an article appeared in the western media that might be a first step to set the record straight when it comes to the pollution in Beijing: IOC chief plays down pollution fears.
Take it from someone who's lived in Bucharest for 5 years: the pollution in Bucharest is worse. On many evenings, when walking on Sos. Viilor on my way back home from work, I could barely breathe. The old cars, not to mention the ancient buses, would stand there idling, 3 lanes wide, going nowhere. I suspect some of those old vehicles had the fuel stored under pressure and weren't even burning the gas, but just throwing it out unburnt.
Come to think of it, there aren't that many old cars in Beijing. Here they also have some of those ancient buses, but these only drive beyond the second ring road. (Ine takes one of those daily.)
What does suck, however, is the Beijing climate. Winters are harsh, and not unlike winters in Bucharest, although I've understood that it'll be even colder here. Spring just plain sucks. Well, at least last spring sucked, which is the only one I can comment on. In spring there are dust storms. You'll know that there was one, when you notice a thin layer of sand all over your house. I noticed there was one when I got a pretty nasty sinus infection that went on for 2 weeks. After spring with its dust storms follows summer with its high humidity, which also sucks: I'm constantly sweating. We have two air conditioners at home and we're using them both. The temperature here is more or less the same as in Bucharest, but in Bucharest we never had an air conditioner and I never needed one, let alone buy one.
Which brings me back to the IOC chief's message. Beijing's very humid and the haze that I see daily is just that: a haze. For one, it's not brown. It also doesn't smell bad. I can inhale deeply and the air smells OK. (Try doing that on Viilor friday evening at 18:00.) I won't deny there's any pollution here; there must be with all those cars driving on the busy 6+ lanes ring roads.
From our window we can see a big chimney going up from some kind of factory. The factory seems to be closed as its chimney hasn't produced as much as a puff during our stay here. Now, I reserve the right to change my opinion if that factory goes back to business and starts burning coal or recalled toys.
Tuesday, August 5. 2008
Monday, July 21. 2008
This weekend I saw the coolest thing. A little Chinese girl had one of these things and now I want one too! It's a baseball cap with a solar powered fan, blowing a nice breeze of 'fresh' air in your face. Interestingly, the fan automatically stops when you enter the shade! That's enough proof for intelligent design right there.
Tuesday, July 15. 2008
No, I'm not referring to the number of casualties after the Sichuan earthquake. This is about ducks. Peking ducks, naturally. On Friday July 4, at 6.10 p.m., in the Shunyi district of Beijing (not far from my work), no fewer than 80,000 ducks died when a freak mini-tornado hit a poultry farm.
The ducks were meant for consumption at the well-known Peking duck chain Quanjude. The manager of the farm claims they will have replenished their numbers of ducks within a month.
Thursday, July 10. 2008
book review of Mara Hvistendahl's "The New Republic"
"The red characters painted on village walls throughout the countryside have evolved from the 1980s slogan YOU BEAT IT OUT! YOU CAN MAKE IT FALL OUT! YOU CAN ABORT IT! BUT YOU CANNOT GIVE BIRTH TO IT!"
"The macho violence spurting forth through outlets like war games is a growing trend in Chinese society--and China's one-child policy, in effect since 1979, is partly responsible."
"If they're ugly and can't find work, there's nothing I can do. No one wants them."
Saturday, July 5. 2008
Bush will attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, or so he announced this week. Merkel won't come, because she simply doesn't fancy the Olympic Games. Sarkozy is still considering it. At the G8 summit in Japan the coming week he will announce whether he will do the Chinese the favour of attending the Beijing Olympics. Well ... favour?
According to China Daily he isn't even welcome. In an online poll on the website Sina.com 88% of respondents stated that they regarded Sarkozy's comments on China lately as 'extremely unfriendly'. About the same percentage of the over 100,000 visitors to that website thought that it would be better if he just stayed away.