Category Archives: Technology

Shanghai Photography Night

It seems like any old bum with a camera adds “photography” to their list of hobbies after living in Shanghai – guys like me, I’m a guy like me. I guess it was either that or shopping.

Anywho, while I’m busy tomorrow to go to this event it looks like a great little, free, get together featuring photographers in Shanghai. Here’s the details:

“Shanghai Photographer Night”
- a monthly cocktail party featuring unique local photographers

Wednesday, Nov.18, 2009 – 1st edition

Join us for an evening at Dada bar, with a slide show showcasing 4 local and visiting photographers, as they each show us their unique and surprising views of Shanghai. The photos will be projected on the large screen, and seating will be arranged for optimal viewing. Music will be kept at a lower volume until midnight, allowing for easy conversation and focus on the visual display. Special prices on select cocktails, wine, and beer.

This month’s photographers:
Tangting – “Delicate”
Patrick Wack – “I Build Shanghai”
Francois Trezin – “Grandma’s Drawer”
Charlie Xia – “Urban Geometry”

This event is curated by Tim Franco.

Wednesday, Nov.18, 2009

Dada Bar, 115 Xingfu Lu, between Fahuazhen / Pingwu Lu, Shanghai.
DADA 酒吧,幸福路115号,法华镇路与平武路之间

(* If you are a photographer, and would like to participate in a
future event, please contact Tim Franco,

For this first edition, we want to bring you 4 very different
photographers that you most likely have seen around Shanghai. No
theme, no relation, just very different styles and backgrounds for
this show:

Our first guest is Charlie Xia, famous on the web for his nightlife
photography, Charlie Xia is a meticulous photographer who spends his
evening hunting the perfect urban shoots. Playing with lights, lines
and curves he is looking for impossible angles and gives us a unique
view of Shanghai urbanscapes. In this series called “urban geometry”,
Charlie is mainly taking the elevated expressway as a subject and
transforms them into urban art pieces.

Our second guest is Patrick Wack. A French photographer based in
Shanghai for 3 years, Patrick has been focusing his personal work on
portraiture, his series such as “Streetaholic” (on
are displaying a consistent and efficient portraiture of fashion flows
around Shanghai and other cities. In this series called “I Build
Shanghai,” Patrick is exploring the construction site of the World
Expo 2010 and gives us a unique insight into the people behind the

Our third guest is Francois Trezin. You might have seen his name in
big fashion magazines around Shanghai through his still photography,
but before being a photographer, Francois is an artist. He uses
photography as a technical process to show us stories and ideas. In
this series called “Grandma’s Drawer” he has been meticulously looking
through his grandparents drawer for anything he could find, and then,
voluntary replace them in the drawer in a particular order. In this
organized mess, Francois is trying to create a story, looking into the
past through random objects.

Our final and main guest is Tang Ting. Tang Ting is well known for his
youth culture photography. Regularly shown in urban magazines, Tang
Ting is not only documenting the youth culture, but he is a part of
it. Traveling through the different scenes and different cities of
China, Tang Ting is mainly using basic 35mm films found at the
cheapest price and captures everything that catches his attention. In
this intimate series called “Delicate,” Tang Ting his just putting
together a series of photos around one word, one feeling, and leaving
the story to his viewers.

Photos: iTool Shanghai

It’s true, I gave in and finally got a phone from the company of Jobs. Other than the 24-7 access to e-mail and procrastination there’s also a bevvy of good photo processing apps which I’ve had fun messing with.

In no particular order here is a scrapbook of recent photos.

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Shanzhai iPod Nano vs real Nano

Shanzhai iPod Nano

In Shanghai it’s not uncommon to find shanzhai MP3 players at the various fake and tech markets, but, have you ever wondered if they actually work? I recently did a review of a 4th generation Shanzhai iPod Nano and compared it to the real thing for Australia’s biggest technology site,

Today the photo gallery comparison of taking a Shanzhai iPod apart next to a real Apple iPod was published and you can find it here. Later this week I hear the site will publish my full review of the Shanzhai Apple good. I won’t spoil the surprise so you’ll just need to check back when it’s live.

Update: Okay the review is now live and you can read it here.

Should Windows 7 be free in China?

Should Microsoft wait for software piracy to be policed or should the company look for new avenues of revenue during the lifecycle of Windows 7 in China?

Last week I penned an editorial piece for ZDNet Australia with the argument on why Microsoft should give their next operating system, Windows 7, away for free in China. It’s not as crazy as it sounds if you consider their online position.

But, you’re going to have to read it over here.

Alternatives to satellite TV in Shanghai

Chances are, if you had a western satellite TV provider then lately you may have noticed that just about all the channels have been blocked. Before forking out between 3000-5000RMB for an ‘authentic’ system – these won’t come with any guarantees by the way – maybe think about divvying up your budget with these alternatives.

TV Shows

Local Chinese Websites – cost=$0 and (and there are others) – These Youtube-like sites have full episodes of the latest western tv shows (and movies). The quality is about the same as the satellite TV providers. If you don’t want to watch tv in front of the computer learn to hook it up to your TV or use the browser on a Sony PS3 or Nintendo Wii. Seek out your nerdy friends and pay them in attention if you’re not quite sure how to do this.

Pros: Fast streaming, costs nothing, legal (I think)
Cons:Quality not HD, have to connect to the Internet before use

Western Websites – cost=$0
Hulu (mostly US) BBC iPlayer(UK) and ABC iView(Australia) and others – These online players offer the latest TV shows for free over the Web. The catch is you may have to be on a US, UK, or Australian IP address to view the shows properly. If you just read that last sentence and thought: “What’s an IP address?”, then you may want to pay another visit to your resident nerd friend.

Pros: Free, usually offered in good quality, it’s legal (I think)
Cons: Sometimes slow streaming or downloading and may need a native country IP address to work.

Bittorrent – cost=$0
There is a lot written about bittorrent on the Web so no need to repeat it here. It’s also a legally gray area that I’m not sure about in China. Do some Googling and visit and I’m sure you’ll catch on quick.

Pros: Usually high quality video than streaming, can download and burn to dvd/use on multiple machines.
Cons: Probably illegal, can be slow to download programs if they aren’t popular – those old episodes of CHIPS may take a while…

Legal downloads – Cost: few dollars an episode
If you feel strongly about people getting paid to do what they do then there’s no need to be a pirate. You can actually purchase legal versions of TV shows at the iTunes music store and places online.

Pros: The feel good feeling that at least some of the people who created the content are getting paid, guaranteed content, usually high quality.
Cons: You have to pay for it, Digital Rights Management on some TV shows means you can only watch it a certain amount of times or copy it to a certain amount of devices before it doesn’t work anymore. (The industry is moving away from this crap way of thinking, though)

DVD Shops – Cost: 5-12RMB per disc
If you’re not blind you may notice quite a lot of DVD shops around town. Inside they offer whole seasons of TV shows, including shows I’d almost forgotten about – Airwolf, anyone? For TV past and present its probably the best way to watch television series in Shanghai if you’re not up to the savvy stuff of downloading or can’t be bothered with it.

Pros: Usually good quality, cheap, huge range of shows, convenience, much less nerdy than messing around with computers.
Cons: Its probably piracy (I actually don’t know for sure), occasional dodgy discs, have to wait for a whole TV season to finish before its in the DVD shop

Use your Satellite to tune into free channels
If you have the equipment the know-how you may be able to set up your satellite to tune to free channels which broadcast in the area. For example, the Australia Network broadcasts for free. Whether you are allowed to do this is I’m not sure (personally I haven’t been bothered to try).

Pros: Free
Cons: A hassle to set up, might have the local police tearing down your satellite dish.


The Pub – Cost: 20-80RMB a drink
Sport is a tricky one. You don’t really want to watch the replay so unless there are Websites with live streaming then the best place to go is your favourite pub which will show your team.

Pros: It’s sociable, most venues have big screens and there’s plenty of places with good pub grub
Cons: You have to wear pants (go outside) to watch your favourite game on TV, Booze costs and subsequent hangover after your team wins the championship.


To grab the latest movies you have a few choices. As to prevent repeating myself, you can use some of the methods above to watch movies, including; bittorrent, DVD shops, local Chinese Website streaming, international Website streaming. The methods are pretty much the same. However, you can also:

Go to the movies – cost: 20-100RMB a ticket
Just like at home there are plenty of places in Shanghai to watch the latest blockbusters and even independent films. You may have to do some research on the Internet before heading out to the movies on where to go and what to see as it changes weekly.

News and Current Affairs

If you’re not into watching news from CCTV9 or ICS on the local channels (I don’t think they are too bad) then it’s all internet. Depending on what you want to know its best to source the latest video from the TV network’s channel directly. If you’re more into reading the news then no doubt you have your favourite news sources already bookmarked and don’t need the help.

Go outside, get a hobby, do something different

Let’s face it, you’re in China and you want to watch ‘Lost’ or something similar? TV isn’t everything, so let go of the laowai TV and get involved in Shanghai and China – chances are you probably won’t be here forever so pick up the TV shows you missed at the DVD store on the way out.

The thing about targeted advertising…

The ad below seems to be following me around Google Adsense enabled sites and its getting quite depressing.

Picture yourself: A big oaf with busy fat triangle fingers and flubby forearms fondling your bride to be as she eyes a better option via a click through ad in a browser….

It’s like a virtual version of walking past Julu Lu or Tongren Lu any night of the week…not that I’m judging. But, is this the sort of dude Google Adsense sees me as?


Shanzhai eye: the DIY hover bike

Just when you think the engenuity of bikes in China had hit saturation point these guys grab some empty cans, a couple of planks of wood, and replace the wheels with paddles to make what I can only describe as a “hover bike” or “paddle bike”.

Potato, patoto – it’s yet another testament to Chinese innovation.

Shanzhai ji primer

It’s not often I write about stuff that goes on in China, I mean, other than random stuff here. But recently I penned a primer for Australian technology sites and ZDNet Australia on the world of Shanzhai phones: story
ZDNet Australia Photo Gallery

The story really just scratches the surface of the Shanzhai phone industry in China and think this area is only going to get more interesting as the phones get better and gather momentum. Anyway, that’s all today – a blatant self-promotion. As you were…


Bing in Chinese update

After the recent mass blocking of social networks, photo services, and Bing – Microsoft’s new search engine – the intertubes have again been unblocked and procrastination amongst expats has once again returned to the status quo.

With that in mind I thought an update to what Bing actually means in Chinese now that it is unblocked. I previously speculated the meaning could be quite a few things in Chinese. However, Microsoft have since launched the site with the characters 必应 which is “bi ying”. I’ve been told via the team at CBSi China it means “whatever you ask for i will satisfy you”.

Picture 49

Shanzhai Eye: Rolls Royce

See the Geely GE sedan that looked like a Rolls Royce Phantom at the Shanghai Auto Show a few months back? Well here is what looks like a direct copy of the Rolls Royce from a garage in China. Here is one of about half a dozen videos showing off their masterpiece:

For the whole playlist visit this link to

Top 10 Annoying Tweets (you won’t read in China)

It seems the procrastination will not be Twitterized on June 4 or anytime soon in China – Twitter along with other sites have been blocked this week.

While the Twitterverse (mostly expats) will go into a spin about this I thought I’d post up some of those regular posts you’ll be missing out on in the near future:

10 “Man, I’m soooooo busy.” Really? So why are you tweeting this again?

9 “I’m having an awesome time at *insert club/pub*” So awesome that you’re tweeting it. By yourself. In the corner.

8 RT the popular kids “OMFG, Guy Kawasaki just Tweeted something! Quick! Seth Goddin just posted a new blog. Link. Link. Link. RT. RT RT.”

7 “It’s hump day. Only 2 more days till the weekend!!!!” Wednesdays: they happen every week. Man your life is boring.

6 “I have so many emails to answer” Right, so I’ve noticed you tweet a lot but haven’t answered my F*&cking email from last week

5 All day public Twitter conversations. There’s better technology for this (IM,DM, email…) or did you just want everyone to see?

4 “Hey everyone, I have THIS MANY followers” So what? That guy. In that movie. Yeah, he still has a bigger thingy.

3 “Re-Tweet ME! Digg My Link!” We get it, you did something on the Internet. You’re a big boy/girl now.

2 Follow Friday. It’s like one giant… circle thingy.

1 Spamming your friends with an internal monologue of what you’re thinking all day. Like aggregating a top 10 list.

So there you have it. Maybe there are more specific expat Twitter posts which are just as annoying – feel free to add them below and I’ll put them in the article.

*Yes, I originally wrote this on Twitter and has been republished with permission elsewhere but all seem blocked at the moment.

Flickr and Twitter blocked in China

“Rest assured I was on the Internet within seconds registering my disgust throughout the world” – Comic Book Guy.

That’s right folks, I can confirm with people in Shanghai and Beijing that Twitter and Flickr are both down. Probably while this sensitive time of year is upon us.

If you’re visiting this site from inside China you may notice pictures missing, youtube funnies missing, and anything twitter related probably won’t work.

No doubt more on this soon.