Nov 2006

Taiwanese Cuisine: Overrated?

Prince Roy in Taiwan:

> I consider it one of my biggest tasks to dispel the myth that Chinese food in Taiwan is ‘the best in the world’. It is one that many foreigners living in Taiwan buy into uncritically. For instance, in the No. 5 issue of Taiwanease, Albert Creak, author of the article “In Search of the Pu Pu Platter”, enthusiastically agrees with a guy named Mr. Lin who tells him: “Once you’ve tried the Chinese food in Taiwan, you’ll never want to eat at another American Chinese restaurant again.” Not only does this perpetuate a harmful vicious cycle which overrates the quality of Chinese food in Taiwan, it is woefully and demonstrably inaccurate. It’s high time we take off the blinders and face the truth: yes, Chinese food is good here, but it’s no great shakes, especially compared with the PRC, and it now lags behind the USA as well.

> I couldn’t have made this argument thirty or even twenty years ago, but the simple fact is that time has marched on and left the culinary world of Taiwan behind….

Read the rest of the entry.

I’m not much of a gourmet. The problem is I tend to like most things I eat. I’m just not critical enough. The way I see it this works out in my favor in the long run, but it’s a reason I don’t normally shout my opinions on food from the rooftops. It’s interesting then, to see Prince Roy’s take. When I was in Taiwan I found the food good, but not amazingly good. The scene seemed similar to Shanghai’s: plenty of mediocre offerings, but also plenty of great food if you can afford it and know where to go.


Nov 2006

So True

Meg at Violet Eclipse says:

> China is so safe, a girl could walk alone at night without worrying she’d be attacked or robbed. China is so dangerous, she might fall into a gaping hole in the middle of the sidewalk, left but the constant construction.

> Chinese people are the hardest-working people I’ve ever seen. People like Juice Aunt and her husband are outside with their cart, all day, every day, no matter what the weather is. But Chinese people are the laziest people I’ve ever seen. I’ve gone into restaurants and seen the staff asleep on the dining tables.

Read the whole entry.


Nov 2006

Audio Resources for Advanced Chinese

I’d like to call attention to some work being done at ChinesePod, not because I work for ChinesePod, but because I think we’re doing good work for a specific learner demographic that is all too often neglected. Still, it seems like ChinesePod Advanced (高级版本) is not well known. For as much work as we’re putting into it, it deserves a little more attention.



Nov 2006

Military Weaponry for Kids

Identify the theme that doesn’t belong in a series of books for Chinese children:

1. Cartoon Characters
2. Cute Animals
3. Mysterious Dinosaurs
4. Pretty Flowers
5. Means of Transportation
6. Military Weaponry

If you guessed #4, “Pretty Flowers,” you are right! The other five are themes of real coloring/drawing/character practice books in a series by Beijing Children and Juvenile Publishing House.

While we’re on the topic of Military Weaponry for Kids, let’s explore that book, shall we? Here’s what the book’s cover looks like:


The big name on the front is 画童学画, which could be cleverly “translated” as “Draw Child Study Draw.” Here’s what a few of the pages look like:

04 09 10 14 16
21 22 24 25 32

Each page basically does three things: (1) teaches the kid how to draw something across the top, (2) using pinyin, teaches the kid how to say the name of the object in the middle, and (3) gives the kid practice writing the character at the bottom.

Some observations:

1. The characters offered for writing practice in the book are at a kindergarten level, but the weaponry vocabulary is at a much, much higher level. (I don’t even know the names of some of those guns in English. Clearly I come from a totally un-war-like culture. Ahem.)

2. The part at the top that “teaches drawing” isn’t helpful. I used plenty of those “learn how to draw” books growing up, and this one just sucks.

3. Hey, this book is pretty useful for someone like me to learn weaponry vocab. Among the Chinese vocabulary taught in the book are: machine gun, heavy machine gun, handgun, rifle, semi-automatic rifle, uzi, revolver, hand grenade, flame thrower, rocket launcher, smoke grenades, tank, aircraft carrier, bomber plane, fighter jet, guided missile, stealth bomber… and more.

4. One of the guns is called a 来福枪 (lit. “come luck gun”). Hehe. Wenlin says it means “rifle” (a kind of transliteration) but it looks more like a shotgun to me.

5. Oh, right, I almost forgot: why do little Chinese kids need to be learning this stuff??

This kind of children’s book is not very uncommon; you can find similar books in almost any bookstore in China. (See the book here.)

Sort of related: see also Peer-See’s highly amusing entry on teaching incomprehensible weirdness to the children through bizarre blocks.


Nov 2006

Kung Fu, Season 1, on DVD

Today while grocery shopping at Carrefour I discovered a rather extensive collection of non-pirated DVDs. It was really kind of shocking. I’m not talking about just Roman Holiday or Charlie Chaplin or whatever; I’m talking about movies that were in theatres in the States in the past year. Most were priced at about 20 RMB. While that’s still close to triple the pirated price tag, it’s moving into the affordable range. With DVDs priced at 20 RMB, many Shanghai consumers could still afford them (although they might have to get choosier) if the police were ever to really crack down on DVD piracy instead of just pretending to.

Kung Fu (1st Season) DVD

Kung Fu, Season 1

But anyway… this post is about the old TV series with David Carradine, Kung Fu (Chinese title 功夫, not to be confused with the Stephen Chow movie of the same name). I found Season 1 on DVD at Carrefour priced at 118 RMB for the 6-disc set. Anti-piracy saint that I am, I plunked down all that cash for the official version.

When I think about it, the TV show Kung Fu was probably my first exposure to “Chinese culture” growing up, aside from the occasional Chinese restaurant. I was never very interested in China until about two years before coming here, so it’s kind of interesting to revisit one of my earliest sources of Chinese cultural input to see what I think of it now. I remember watching bits of the TV show with my dad as a child and finding it pretty boring. So now, about 20 years later, I have a chance to see what I missed.

I was also curious what Chinese people think of this TV show… I mean, it’s a story about a Shaolin monk in the American Old West, but it was written in the 70’s, mainly by Americans Howard Friedlander and Ed Spielman. I’m just going to take a wild guess here and say that they’re probably not eminent sinologists. The chances of massive cultural gaffes are great. You have tons of flashback scenes of the young protagonist at Shaolin Temple, and you can’t watch 5 minutes without someone spouting some sort of Eastern philosophy. Bruce Lee was co-creator, though, so maybe he made sure they got it mostly right?

Not being a journalist, I’m not bound to do any real research about this kind of thing, so I simply asked Xiao Wang (my ayi). She was very familiar with the show, and though it was great. Well, cool… at least some Chinese like it. She didn’t erupt into spontaneous laughter, anyway.

Three little details I noticed after watching the first episode:

1. The main character of the showed is called Caine. His name is written in the Chinese subtitles as 凯恩. This is also the Chinese name of Ken Carroll, co-founder of ChinesePod, as well as of his Kaien English School. Coincidence??

2. In one scene there are two clear references to Shaolin Temple as being in Hunan. But it’s not. It’s in Henan. The Chinese subtitles got it right.

3. Caine’s full name is Kwai Chang Caine. Apparently the Chinese translators couldn’t make any sense of that as a Chinese name, so they called him 凯恩· 张.

If you want English audio, the DVD won’t let you turn off the Chinese subtitles. It’s not a big deal except that I can’t help reading the subtitles. So I end up nitpicking the translation even though I don’t want to. On the plus side, though, I’ll learn how to say things like, “when you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave” in Chinese. And living in China, you know that’s going to come in handy.

UPDATE: Once upon a time, Prince Roy offered insight into the issue of Kwai Chang Caine’s real name and the location of Shaolin Temple.


Nov 2006

Not Making You Think

WARNING: geeky tech/webdesign stuff ahead!

I haven’t been satisfied with the Sinosplice homepage for a while. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do to make it better until I read Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, a manual of website usability. Yesterday I finally got some time to implement a few changes I’ve been wanting to make. Now there is a new homepage.

Old homepage design:

Old Sinosplice Homepage

– Simple; almost all text
– Extensive use of RSS feeds to display latest content
– Javascript toggles to hide feeds and lists so that the page isn’t too long and cluttered with text

I think the problems are pretty apparent. It’s just so boring to look at. The javascript toggle just hid a deeper problem: too much info on the page. I’m guessing very few people ever clicked on the links to “open” the extra content for each section.

New homepage design:

New Sinosplice Homepage

– Tagline added (as recommended by DMMT)
– Graphical content teasers added (as recommended by DMMT), which rotate randomly on every page load
– Most feed-supplied content and many unessential links removed

It’s obviously just a lot more interesting to look at, and with the rotating graphics as well as the content from the blog RSS feed and the latest Flickr photos, seems a lot fresher. I still don’t have a concise welcome blurb, though. I also think there’s still too much text on the page. I’ll get to that stuff later.

Now that I’ve got the Tone Pair Drills done and the homepage redesigned, I’ll be spending more time on writing better blog entries (English and Chinese). I think it’s about time.


Nov 2006

Medicine Ingredients = Pun Ingredients

Ever since I started doing my Chinese pun posts, I’ve been deluged with requests for more*. So today I am finally getting around to posting one that I’ve been seeing for something like a year in an ad on the subway:

> 药材好,药才好。

> Only good ingredients can make good medicine.

The pun is with the words (medicine), (an adverb meaning something like “only if”), and 药材 (medicinal ingredients). You have two three-character phrases with exactly the same character pronunciation, but the difference of one character in the two phrases (材 and 才, both read “cái”) gives the sentence clear meaning.

The two parts can’t be said to be entirely identical, because read naturally, there would definitely be different pauses in the first part and the second part. Still, the identical pronunciations still make it kind of charming.

* This is a total lie.

UPDATE: John B has provided a picture of the ad. Thanks, John B!


Weight Loss Pun
Weight Loss Pun #2


Nov 2006

A New Advertising Low?

There are so many ads for cosmetic surgery in Shanghai taxis these days. Ken reports this grim discovery:

> Now, it can be annoying when you’re sitting in a taxi and you cannot turn off the TV screen 18 inches from your face, but I can live with it. However, what I saw in the taxi today today was perhaps a new low. There was a print ad, mounted on the back of the head rest in front of me, advertising a plastic surgery clinic that obviously churns out operations. Part of the ad was a reflective plastic thing (it looked like tin foil) in the shape of a mirror that invited you to look into it and consider if you didn’t need to do something about your looks. (I answered in the affirmative.)

> So there you are stuck in traffic, on a Monday morning for an hour and all you see is your own, crumpled, ugly mug looking back at you with, a doctor holding a scalpel smiling at you. (I wept profusely.) I almost told the taxi driver to head over to the clinic and get it done before lunch.



Nov 2006

Busty Models Get Men Thinking… about what now?

If you’ve ever seen a “men’s magazine” like FHM or Maxim, you know that one of the main staples is “interviews” with buxom young females. In these multi-page features photographs figure prominently, words are squeezed in at the sides, and key quotations are carefully selected and displayed in big type next to the photographs. These quotations are usually sex-related, designed to get the reader’s pulse racing. (If you really need examples of this, you might try taking a look at NSFW-1 or NSFW-2.)

I haven’t really taken a look at the Chinese equivalents of these magazines, but I recently chanced upon the following picture of Chinese model 陈馨婷 (Chén Xīntíng):

陈馨婷 (Chén Xīntíng)

The quote says:

> 我很期待穿婚纱的感觉。 (Wǒ hěn qīdài chuān hūnshā de gǎnjué.)

which might be (a bit awkwardly) translated as:

> I’m really looking forward to the feeling of wearing a wedding dress.

That funny feeling you’re left with is a special brand of men’s magazine culture shock. Maybe.


Nov 2006

Business and Buddies in Beijing

Last Tuesday and Wednesday I was in Beijing on ChinesePod business. I can’t really talk about that, but hopefully our reasons for being there will all be public by the end of the month. This trip was significant for other reasons, though — I got to (briefly) experience Beijing as a non-tourist for once, and to finally meet some guys I’ve been communicated with over the internet for years (that’s hard to believe) without ever meeting.

The last time I was in Beijing was 2001. I visited twice that summer, once with my friend Ari as part of a big long trip, and the other time with my little sister. It had been 5 years since I saw it last, and with all the preparations for the Olympics, I was looking forward to seeing all the changes. I didn’t get to see any, though. My last visit to Beijing had been as a tourist, and this time I didn’t go to any of those same places. Geographically, the visits didn’t overlap a single bit. Even points of arrival and departure were different; this was my first time flying to and from Beijing. So without any physical overlap, I couldn’t really compare from a chronological perspective at all.

My impressions of Beijing were very good this time, though. The weather was great, and the areas of Beijing I spent time in were all pleasant. I think what impressed me most, though, was the laid back feel of the city. I know that Shanghai is extremely fast-paced and business-oriented, but perhaps I had thought Beijing was too, at least to a greater degree. To me, Beijing felt more comparable to Hangzhou in that respect. In Hangzhou, people go to West Lake to just sit around and play cards all day long. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen in Shanghai.

I met up with Roddy (Chinese Forums, Signese) first, and a little later Joel (Danwei) joined us at a cafe/bar on Houhai. Brendan ( organized a get-together at a bar called Sandglass (a very predictable selection, according to Roddy). There I met David (AdsoTrans) and Jeremy (Danwei, Danwei TV).

It’s always interesting to meet in person the people you only know through online communication. There were some differences between my expectations of these guys and what I actually experienced.

Roddy Flagg (Chinese Forums, Signese)


I have chatted with Roddy a lot over the years, and we’ve helped each other out with online projects more than once. I was already familiar with his sense of humor. Although I didn’t know exactly what he looked like before I met him, there weren’t any surprises there.

Joel Martinsen (Danwei)


Joel has been an extremely helpful commenter on Sinosplice over the years, and has helped me out with various translation issues. As any reader of Danwei knows, the man is an impressive translation powerhouse, and he’s an all around good guy as well. (He even bought me an ice cream.) No real surprises here.

Brendan O’Kane (


I had actually met Brendan once before in Shanghai, but that time was brief and alcohol tinged. This time I got a better feel for the guy, and I think he’s pretty much exactly like his online persona with one big exception: he’s more cheerful in person.

David Lancashire (AdsoTrans)


What does one expect of a computational linguist who developed a free, impressive online machine translation system? A quiet, geeky guy, that’s what. I had chatted with David over IM multiple times, but I guess I didn’t get a good feel for his personality. In person he was funny and outgoing and didn’t look at all like what I expected. Also, he’s Canadian!

Jeremy Goldkorn (Danwei, Danwei TV)


I have a lot of respect for Jeremy, but somehow I got the impression of a rather formal, business-like person. Was I unfairly stereotyping budding media moguls? Anyway, Jeremy turned out to be a really funny, gregarious guy. It was really good of him to stop by after just getting back from a blogger conference in Hangzhou. I imagine he is quite bloggered out now.

Hopefully I’ll be making trips to Beijing more often in the future. Shanghai is the place for me for the foreseeable future, but Beijing is definitely a place I’d like to spend more time.


Oct 2006

The 'Please speak Mandarin' T-shirt

please speak mandarin

please speak Mandarin

Some of you may have noticed that when I put up my new Tone Pair Drills I added a new Products section to this website along with it. I’ll introduce one of the items here from various fascinating sociopolitical angles.

The shirt says 请讲普通话 which means “please speak Mandarin” (rather than some other local dialect). The inspiration for this shirt can be seen at countless bus stops all over Shanghai: completely ineffectual “请讲普通话” propaganda. The Shanghainese continue blissfully barking at each other in their dialect regardless.

Simply by wearing this one shirt, you can:

– subtly poke fun of the PRC’s language policies
– inform Chinese people around you that you want to talk to them in Chinese
– inform Chinese people around you that you don’t want to engage them in whatever crazy dialect they speak (especially useful in Shanghai)

But I also created this shirt for another special reason. My roommate Lenny plans to move to Taiwan in December. He has made it clear on several occasions that he won’t put up for the degenerate dialect of Mandarin the Taiwanese call 国语, and he has made it his personal mission to reform the speaking habits of the whole island.

While I’m sure he will have no problem at all with that task (maybe he can even get Prince Roy to help, although Mark and Poagao may be thorns in his side), I thought he could use this shirt to aid his righteous crusade in some small way. The shirt is great for Taiwan because:

– The Taiwanese never say 普通话 (Mandarin), as that’s a politicized PRC word; they say 国语 (also Mandarin).
– Three out of five of the characters on the shirt are simplified. Simplified characters are, of course, an aesthetic affront to the Taiwanese which offends every fiber of their being.

Obviously there are many reasons why you need to order this shirt now. (Oh yeah, also: I ordered some merchandise before deciding to go with CafePress, and I can confirm that the quality of their stuff doesn’t suck anymore.) For more Sinosplice merchandise, check out the Sinosplice Store (more stuff to come soon).


Oct 2006

New Feature: Mandarin Chinese Tone Pair Drills

Mandarin Chinese Tone Pair Drills (box cover)

It’s been a while since I’ve added significant non-blog content to Sinosplice, but I’ve just completed something that could be really useful to learners of Mandarin Chinese. That something is Mandarin Chinese Tone Pair Drills.

I actually began this project all the way back in 2003. I put my ideas together into a rough form and some friends (including John B, Brendan, Greg, and Alf) helped me test them out. They gave me good positive feedback, but I felt the whole thing still needed a fair amount of work. I didn’t find the time and inspiration to finally put in that necessary work until this month, almost three years later. I spent a good chunk of my October holiday working on it, and quite a few nights over the past few weeks.

The main idea behind these drills is that learning tones of individual characters is not enough. Learning tone combinations is the key. Mastering those combinations necessarily involves extensive practice with tone pairs. A mastery of tone pairs will lead to significant progress with any number and combination of tones in succession. Although I was not fully cognizant of the exact process at the time, I believe it was this method which lead to my own successes in correctly producing tones of Mandarin Chinese in succession.

This concept is not exactly unique. In the past few years I have even noticed several other websites take the “tone pair” angle. I think where the other websites fall short is:

1. The words chosen are random words, both in terms of part of speech as well as level of difficulty.
2. There is no clear method for how to use the tone pairs to improve one’s tones.
3. There is no clear connection between the tone pairs and actual speech.
4. They often rely too heavily on visuals (tone marks) to teach the tone combinations.

I tackled these problems in several ways.

1. I focused on adjectives, which are both highly likely to be useful in elementary conversation, as well as plentiful in almost all tone combinations at the elementary level.
2. I developed a clear method which progressively increases in difficulty, and, in the later stages of the method, can also be used by intermediate learners looking to improve their tones. (That method is provided in pinyin, simplified characters, and traditional characters.)
3. Following the method progressively will eventually result in practicing useful, grammatical sentences.
4. I included audio files for all the words in the drill, both in simple clickable online versions, as well as in downloadable MP3 versions with playlists for drilling and quizzing.

I also licensed the method using a Creative Commons license, encouraging others to build on it.

The method I developed is labeled as a “drill.” As such, there is definitely plenty of room for it to be built on using a Chinese teacher’s experience and a little creativity. I should also stress that the drill was designed to be practiced with a native speaker Chinese tutor, but I still believe it can be useful even without the guidance of a tutor.

I welcome your feedback. I do expect to update and improve this feature over time.


Oct 2006

Korean from a Chinese Textbook

As I explained before, my wife and I are learning Korean here in Shanghai. Progress has been slow, though, because our tutor unexpectedly had to return to Korea for the summer. Dedicated students that we are, we seized the opportunity for a two-month break from our studies. She’s back now, though, so we’re back in the saddle. We all decided we needed a good textbook.

Korean Textbook (in Chinese)

the book

We textbook we decided on with our tutor is 新韩国语基础教程(上) (New Korean Foundation Course – Part 1 of 2), published by 大连理工大学出版社 (Dalian University of Technology Press). It may not be perfect or even particularly enlightened, but compared to the cornucopia of crap with which it shared space on the book store shelves, it seems like a Godsend.

The reasons I like the text are:

1. Chapter 1 of the textbook eases into the sounds and writing system of the language with extensive explanations of the simple vowels, then simple consonants, then diphthongs, then finals, then rules of pronunciation. That’s 32 pages! There are explanations (in Chinese) with IPA, examples, exercises, illustrations of the mouth, etc. There’s even a diagram showing exactly how the Korean writing system was designed to resemble the human mouth as it makes the sounds of the language (which is something I’d been curious about for a while). I complained last time about spending too much time on writing and pronunciation before learning any useful language and I still stand by that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a very complete reference in Chapter 1 that I can come back to any time.

2. The regular chapters are broken down into pretty standard sections: (1) sentence patterns, (2) sample sentences, (3) dialogue, (4) new vocabulary, (5) Chinese translations of parts 1-3, (6) grammar explanations, (7) exercises. Nothing ground-breaking here, but it’s all very usable and practical. The grammar explanations are clear, with helpful charts and diagrams. I haven’t really spent much time on the exercises yet, so I won’t say anything about that.

3. I like how outside of Chapter 1 there is no romanization of the Korean anywhere, and the Chinese translation is on another page. This forces the beginner to trudge through the Hangul, which is a necessary ordeal.

The big disadvantage of the series is that all the listening exercises are meant to be accompanied by cassette tapes. I guess that can be forgiven since the series was published in 1999, but that doesn’t change the fact that tapes are useless to me now because I own nothing that plays them (and I’m not buying a stupid tape player).

Anyway, if you’re looking for a textbook for learning Korean in China, I think that 新韩国语基础教程 is a pretty good way to go. The two book set cost 48 RMB altogether (without the tapes).


Oct 2006

Thank you, Andy Lau

Thank you, Andy Lau (刘德华), for one of the funniest Chinese music videos I have ever seen. Greg and I witnessed this amazing recording of a live concert while lunching at the “Kowloon Ice House” in Zhongshan Park’s “Cloud Nine” (龙之梦) mall. A search on YouTube turned up nothing, but thankfully the results had a clip of the exact video we watched:

For those of you too lazy or too foolish to watch that clip, let me recap the hilarity contained therein:

1. Andy Lau is wearing a white cowboy hat and a wifebeater-blouse.
2. The song is a Cantonese version of “I Hate Myself for Loving You” called 我恨我痴心 (literally, “I Hate My Infatuation”).

Well, that’s all, really. It’s funny.

Oh, and just in case you need it, there’s also a karaoke version of 我恨我痴心 set to random boy/girl scenes that have absolutely nothing to do with the song.


Oct 2006

Metrosexual: 9 Chinese Translations

When I mentioned a presentation on homosexuals in the West for my critical discourse analysis class, I gave the Chinese translation of “metrosexual” as 都市玉男. That’s not the only translation, though. In his research, Pepe turned up quite a few other translations currently in use online. Here are the ones Pepe collected, along with their literal meanings:



1. 都市玉男 city jade man
2. 都市美型男 city beauty type man
3. 都市中性美男 city neuter beauty man
4. 都会美直男 city beauty straight man
5. 都市生活自恋者 city life narcissist
6. 花样美男 variety beauty man
7. 花色美男 variety beauty man
8. 雌性男人 female man
9. 后雅痞 post yuppie

Translation Notes

1. 都市 means both “city” and “metropolis,” as does 都会.

2. 美 could also be translated “beautiful” in all instances above

3. The same word “variety” was used for both 花样 and 花色, even though they’re different words. When examined at the character level, both contain the “flower” character, but the latter also contains 色, which in other words can mean “color” or something close to “sex.” I’m not sure exactly how the use of these words impact the feel of the Chinese translation.

Translation into Chinese can be pretty tough. I do find it very interesting to see the variety of translation attempts when a new, diffult to translate English word appears in Chinese media. Usually a certain period of time is required while society settles on one or two, effectively pushing out the rest, which are then are mostly forgotten by society.

After several years of hype, the whole metrosexual fad seems to be dying, and the English word might just die with it. If it does fall out of usage, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean its corresponding Chinese translation will. The Chinese might decide to keep the word around for their own purposes. Time will tell.


Oct 2006

China, More Tissues (please)

handing out tissues

handing out tissues in Japan

When I went to Japan in 1997 to study for a year, it was my first time out of the United States. I knew Japan would be different, but I had very few expectations. I went out there with a year’s worth of Japanese, eyes wide open, and a brain ready to soak it all up. Of the many, many cultural peculiarities I noticed in Japan, one of the most convenient was the tissue pack advertising.

It’s a simple method. Someone goes to a crowded metropolitan area with a box of small packs of tissues. On the tissue packs’ plastic wrappers is advertising. People are quite often willing to accept free tissues, and happily carry the advertising with them wherever they go. Everyone wins.

When I first arrived in China, I discovered how important tissues are here. You use them as napkins, you use them as paper towels, you use them as toilet paper. You really shouldn’t go anywhere without a small personal tissue supply. I found myself really wishing that the Chinese would adopt the tissue pack advertising method.

Here in Shanghai the primary method of street advertising is handing out business card-sized ads in and around the subway stations. I imagine it doesn’t work well at all. The workers handing out the cards are extremely annoying, and no one wants the cards. Subway sanitation workers are always sweeping them up. It seems like the tissue pack advertising method would be perfect for China.

I have actually seen the method used here in Shanghai at least twice. I got a free pack of ad-swaddled tissues outside of the South Huangpi Road (黄陂南路) subway station just last week, and I saw it once before, a long time ago. This really needs to catch on.


Tissue Issues (Sinosplice)
examples of Japanese tissue packs (Flickr)


Oct 2006

Some t-shirts I've seen lately

These were all spotted on t-shirts on the streets of Shanghai:

– Labial
– Herpes Club
– Naturally Two-Two
– Tomorrow is Peace. Tomorrow is Yesterday.

I have no explanation for the first two, although to be fair, “labial” is a legitimate linguistics term, and “herpes clubs” actually do exist (although I can’t imagine there being t-shirts for it). The second one is obviously a knock-off of the Taiwanese clothing company “Naturally JOJO.” The last one is confusing because there are no grammar or spelling mistakes, and it almost makes me want to believe that something clever is going on, but in the end it really just doesn’t make any sense at all.


Oct 2006

IPTV for Shanghai

IPTV advertisement

IPTV advertisement

I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot about IPTV lately. The image at left is the ad I now see every month in my phone bill from China Telecom. So what is IPTV? According to Wikipedia:

> IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) describes a system where a digital television service is delivered using the Internet Protocol over a network infrastructure, which may include delivery by a broadband connection. For residential users, IPTV is often provided in conjunction with Video on Demand and may be bundled with Internet services such as Web access and VoIP.

I’m going to be moving into a new apartment soon, and IPTV is an option I’ve been considering. I’m not sure how wide the offerings are, if it compares with satellite TV (which can be a slight hassle because it’s technically “illegal”), and how easy it would be to use in conjunction with satellite TV.

Oh, and then there’s also the whole “why pay for something you can get for free online already?” issue. Well, it’s not that simple. The internet here is slow. YouTube is slow. Bittorrent downloads take a long time. The IPTV connection should be fast; real “video on demand.” For the time being, it may very well be worthwhile.

I’ve done some internet research, but I think what will help inform me the most is to make a trip to the China Telecom building (I need to go there to pay an overdue phone bill anyway) and see what they can tell (and hopefully show) me.

Here are some more links:

Shanghai set for IPTV rollout (China Daily)
SMG Prepares For Shanghai IPTV Services (Pacific Epoch)
What is IPTV? (GDBTV)
An introduction to IPTV (Ars Technica)
IPTV vs. Internet Television: Key Differences (Master New Media)
What is IPTV? (iMedia interview)

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