Monday, July 31, 2006
The 2006 Asian Medical Students' Conference Hong Kong has come to an end, and I am finally recovering from the sleep debt I've accumulated in the past week. The theme was Tobacco- its burden on health and society; sounds so non-medical to outsiders, common-sense right? Right, if it's so easy why haven't we solved the problem already 50 years ago. This is where the Dogs and Demons concept comes in (and that's the name of a book I read this summer). Imagine we have gathered a group of people who cannot draw at all, we asked them to draw one demon and one dog; you would expect that dogs are easier to draw. WRONG. A dog is something that we see almost everyday, it is so easy to tell whether a dog is welldrawn or not; as for a demon, everybody can pretty much draw something scary and it will probably look pretty scary, demons are not something we see everyday (hoepfully lol). Totobacco is something that I see everyday, something that I have grown to be so numb about; in fact I was perhaps the only person in the Council that thinks that the conference theme was too generic. well, yes and no. The conference has been such an utterly humble experience, that I had to learn from the obvious. we see anti-cancer treatment progressing everyday, but for anti-tobacco it's still the same o-nicotine patches since the 70s. I think for the big one thing we forgot to do during this conference was to ask people to be humble, the focus should be to learn from the obvious. like I said, if it's so easy why haven't we solved the problem already. Originally I planned to talk about this at the survival talk on the first day, but the mics didn't work and I was too frustrated standing in front of 400 strangers I just wanted to get the essential facts across. Have you ever been on stage begging people to sit down and shut up? I have. I had to start in a polite way, proceed to some neutrality, and then a bit of threat and end with some candies. There were times I had been so grumpy I could see myself burning on stage. I could remember how rude I was to those AMDA doctors from taiwan, cuz their thumbdrive was only 128Mb and we needed a 1Gb to transfer the files they requested. I could remember how rude I was to the indonesian and malaysian RCs when I was completely fed up with sorting out their Halal issues. I still think that I was right because their delegates did not register properly so we were unable to prepare that much Halal food. I was angry because I saw them shouting at vivian when they dared not shout at me cuz im a guy, I was angry because the DW and HR people didn't even have a seat when some other people used their bags to occupy empty seats. The reason why amsa-hk received so many complaints was that everybody had a great expectation of Hong Kong. They were all thinking Hong Kong was supposed to be the most sweatless place after Japan. They are pretty right, if they could pay, if we were allowed to charge more. A lot of the problems came from venues, especially the places we lived at: CUHK hostels. It is simply imposslbe to find a place that accomodates 450 people for a week at USD10 per night. For once we have at least tried YMCA and the hostels on Sasoon road. I was the programme director, so i was destined to take all the hits, because everything can be under Programmes. From transport to food, from airconditioning to lectures, from VIP reception to furniture booking. I don't know what's wrong but sometimes people just think that you're stupid. "have I not thought about that? I'm human too" you guys might have seen me swearing with my lips in the middle of a sentence, or turned away from the mic and groaned. The amount of physical exertion was something that I didn't expect. phil and me had been moving all those supplies off the building on the truck off the truck and into the building. we were the 2 out of 4 mobilizable people during the conference. we were both fed up, and i have never seen phil so frustrated before, he's a person that can take things really really well. he has the whole academic program on his shoulders, and the best i could do was to take care of absolutely everything else. i have never seen lydia and yq so stressed before either, they had to cope with all those missing and overslept people, they had to phone up all GMs one by one there's a change of plans, they were in rm235 most of the time, and that's where the spinal tracts of this conference terminate. I owe a big thank you to so many people, apart from the PD, to whom I've already written something personal (joanna joyce ophelia phil ray). I need to thank especially DW and HR dept, angela eleanor yq lyd vivian. i need to thank PDIT for making those awesome videos non stop for 50hrs karson steward cynthia. i need to thank PR for the money(!!) and managing the ever changing VIP list athena fiona samuelsiu. and i need to thank a coupla GMs that have helped so much jj nick michael, a coupla OCs ahyip michelle coral. also need to thank eric, who has to look normal on stage when he knew everything was not OK. and to victor oscar and clara who has to be schizophrenic with her role in the conference, to dominic who has been another person out of the 4 mobilizable people in the whole conference, thank you for being with us. i need to thank everyone who has been part of this conference, everything would have been a monkey show without you.
trapped in the maze of time..8:22 PM
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Samsung's sports camcorder SC-X210WL spots a wireless lense system, 15 feet. hot stuff "The ultra-compact SC-X205WL Sports Camcorder lets you capture the action – even while you're in it – thanks to a wireless weather resistant external clip-on lens that lets you shoot hands-free. 512MB of built-in memory lets you record plenty of high quality MPEG4 video, an SD/MMC slot allows you to add even more memory to ensure that you capture all the action which can be previewed on the 2" LCD screen, and then downloaded to a PC at high speed. A 10x optical/100x digital zoom, 680K pixel CCD and electronic image stabilization deliver crisp visuals, while you also enjoy the convenience of MP3/webcam/voice recorder /data storage."
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
DoCoMo's "sound leaf" bone-conduction handset
coming out in AUgust at 10000yen. sweetness.
the adaptor will only work on DoCoMo phone jacks, sorry guys
trapped in the maze of time..5:40 AM
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Chief Executite Donald Tsang is at Singapore these are the questions that China wanted him to ask with a lovely Singaporean accent
1. how did singapore get away from UN's condemnation on her Human Rights leh? (How come it has never been attacked by the US at first place ah?) China no can meh? 2. how did the secret service police get away from the British Law (and the Common Law)? 3. how did Singapore manage to control the media in the 21st century, how much Singa- dollahs does it take to have a few thousand people working harder than Adaptec (Norton antivirus/internet secirity) censoring Political sites instead of notty Porn sites leh? 4. how come Singapore is such a FINE (penalty) city lah? 5. why are Singaporean orang-orang so educated, so elite yet so tamed with the communist government? or you teach me another word for communism in Singlish, can mah? I can put that in the new little red pink book 6. Comrade Li managed to bestow his governence to his son without touching the word monarchy, how come leh? me like like, so many sons and daughters in China wants that vely badly too lah. 7. why are Singaporeans just so darn lucky leh?
Oh, I wonder if my blog can be accessed in Singapore cuz I know that Phil's can't.
trapped in the maze of time..9:18 PM
Thursday, July 13, 2006 Prologue to a series of three. During my trip to Japan, I was lucky enough to be given the chance to interview three of the big players in the Japanese mobile business. Before going to the actual meetings, it might be worth while to chat a little about the Japanese mobile market as a whole.
Introduction to the Japanese mobile market Comparing to the rest of the world, the Japanese mobile market is isolated. For years they have been insisting on using their own standards (PHS and PDC), if you were to travel to Japan in the past, none of your GSM handsets would work, if you were smart enough to pick up a CDMA handset outside Japan, perhaps less than 5 of them will work, and when they work, they are restricted to a few cities and within a very limited coverage area (the airport district for example). The difference in standards has not only created a huge barrier for consumers but also the manufacturers. Nokia tried to supply PDC handsets for J-phone in the past, but then the company eventually pulled out due to high cost and low return. Or put it another way, Nokia did not understand the Japanese market, what Japanese consumers want and what Operators expect from the device.
It is until the age of 3G that we finally see the Japanese market gradually opened up; NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone both have UMTS-compatible networks. However, up till today, non-Japanese manufacturers only supply a very limited amount of models to Japan: Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG and Pantech have taken their chance to score, and so far none of them have succeeded yet. This goes to the difference of not only the consumption but also the business model that drives the mobile frenzies in Japan.
The operator-driven business model Whilst few would question that Japanese and Korean mobile markets are the most mature in the world, not a lot of people would entirely agree with the model of how the phone business is run over there. The difference is that both of the two countries have their mobile business entirely operator-driven. In other words it is the operator that decides the trend and the product line.
Just one day before Vodafone KK was sold to Softbank, the failing branch of the UK mobile giant tried to rationalize their fate by attacking this operator-driven model, saying that it was backwards and uneconomical. And we all wonder why this model has been surprisingly workable in Japan for everyone else.
For all the four operators in Japan today they all have their own individual infrastructures: AU KDDI has the CDMA 2000 1x and EV-DO networks, NTT and Vodafone have their own separate PDC and W-CDMA networks, whereas Wilcomm has a modified PHS network. Notice that not all of them use the same standards, and even for the operators that use the same standards, they might use different or even additional frequencies. Normally one handset will only work for one operator, the cost for switching between operators is therefore exceptionally high, let alone the absence of number portability. (To date)
Japanese operators rarely release one handset at a time, but they usually release a whole batch that they call "series", terms such as Mova 505i, FOMA 902iS or V900 pop in here. Phones are released in quanta like this to match the progressing market trend and content development. The NTT FOMA 900i series has been one of the milestones for the company because it has completely shredded the bulky and ultra-battery-draining images of 3G phones; or the MOVA 505i series which has turned megapixel cameras from a luxury to a mainstream standard. Before that, a lot of planning work is needed, and this is when the manufacturers come in.
FOMA 902iS series
MOVA 505i series
There are mainly two selling seasons for mobile phones in Japan, the first one is around May (aka the summer line-up), and the second one is around Christmas. All the product announcements from all the four operators usually take place a month before the selling seasons. These are the money making months that the Operators will try to steal users from competitors or force existing customers to upgrade their not-so-old handsets. About a year before the product announcement, operators would approach the manufacturers to discuss deals with them; the concept of what will be hot in 12 months time and what not. The megapixel camera phones, the first WCDMA handsets all took more than 12 months to plan (in fact, a more realistic number would be 18 months). The teams will then brainstorm a request list of the basic specifications for the series. For example all of the handset must include electronic money, or GPS, or all of them must support downloading music and movies from the Operator's online store. Then the manufacturers would research and design their own handsets within the viability of the request list. Mitsubishi is famous for their sliders, Sharp is famous for their AVS screens and camera, SonyEricsson is famous for having exclusive design, Fujitsu is famous for the fingerprint scanning module and so on.
When it comes to the actual product launch, they say the W42S (model number) is an AU EV-DO Walkman manufactured by SonyEricsson. You would not know who made the phone unless you know what the S in W42S stands for, or that the Walkman brand comes from Sony. In Japan, the branding comes from Operators, manufacturers only serve as OEMs.
W42S by SonyEricsson The unique relationship between operators and manufacturers has made technology export extremely difficult. Since 50% of the developmental cost is borne by the Operator, the export of such technology will require the consent of both parties and also a third party which is the dealer overseas. Will the dealer be happy with the second hand design? Will the local operator be happy with their own products being used by a strategic opponent overseas? How much time do we have to fine-tune the devices to fit another platform on another network before the wow-factor wears out? And how much money do we have to put into one of these alien devices when we can just stock up from Nokia and Motorola painlessly?
Consumerism All mobile friendly cities in the world are usually marked by a fast turn over rate, this is no exception in Japan. You rarely see people using phones more than 2 years old in the streets, as the average shelf life of a model is usually less than a year and the average lifespan of a purchased device usually ranges from 5 to 12 months only. This might be a cultural thing, the craving for the newest, or it could be a marketing thing, that consumers are well aware of when to upgrade their phones, when to expect the prices to drop granted by the absolute pattern of the 2 selling seasons.
The pricing of an average phone is normally 20000-35000 yen for a new customer, which is well below the actual cost of development and production. The operators get the money back by selling contents and providing network services. And it is quite common to have monthly phone bills over USD100. (ARPU for FOMA users is 8650yen in Q1 2006)
Comparing to Korea, Japan has a slower penetration of internet (and broadband), the reason lies in the geography (cost) and also the living habits (substitute). The disproportionably high land value in the city centers drive citizens to live in the suburbs, a lot of Japanese spend more than 2.5 hours a day just on public transport. (For example living close to Chiba and working in Tokyo) What else can you do on a crowded train? Flip open your phone, listen to music and get online. By the time you get home, there is no need to use the internet on PC, as most of your email are SMS-alike, and why bother paying a fixed line when you already have unlimited access in office. This explains why NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode had the chance to become the world’s earliest mobile internet service platform to actually succeed in market, comparing to WAP in Europe. I-mode was then copied by other operators: AU’s EZWeb, J-phone’s J-sky (now Vodafone Live!). Since i-mode has started in1999, mobile internet has gained its momentum that at one point in Japan, the number of websites written specifically for phones was more than that for PC.
The year of 2006 With the introduction of one-seg territorial digital broadcasting service in April, the scheduled launch of HSDPA and number portability in the 3rd quarter, the year of 2006 is another strategic year for the Japanese mobile business. The end of megapixel camera chase and the continual penetration of 3G have made it ever so hard to force consumers to upgrade their handsets. If those who needed a mobile phone have already gotten one, if those who needed to upgrade 3G have already upgraded, then the cookie left will be the price and the image (design). As evidently seen in AU’s experience, when the company introduced the AU Design Project with shapes that you think can only be mockups at CeBIT, the company has surpassed Vodafone KK to become the second largest operator in Japan, with the highest new subscribers throughout the past 3 years. Before AU’s Design Project, the hip Japanese chase for the highest spec all-in-one handsets, now they chase for the ones with the coolest design and pick all the functions they need, to save some buck and bulk. They might need a Walkman, but they might not need a 3 megapixel camera. They might need a large keypad, but they don’t care about the screen. The idea of concept models has been introduced that certain devices were produced to answer the minority, these concept models serve as new swords to capture customers, and the sword will only be sharper this year.
Price competition will get fierce this year, which is uncommon in the Japanese market because of the high barriers to migrate between operators. The number portability will solve part of the "nuisance", you can switch as long as you are okay with buying a new handset. Also, the popularity of full html browser on phones has increased data traffic drastically. Since most contents on PC sites are free, operators will need to look for a balance to make money and compete in this new area. For example AU took the initiative to cap the charge for data traffic that gives people virtually unlimited internet usage (the double-teigaku scheme).
The year of 2006 will be an interesting year, with Softbank taking over Vodafone, the introduction of yet more new technologies, all operators will face competitions ever so intense.
Friday, July 07, 2006
A lot of people would parallel phones made by Sharp with those of Sony Ericsson, in that they both have strong AV functions and they both have introduced the "it" models in the geek world. Now here's the punch-line. What if I tell you that Sharp was the company that first brought camera phones into the world? Well, I am talking about their J-SH04 model released back in November 2001. Which phone were you using back then? Did you even have a phone? Their claim to fame doesn't end there, either. Sharp is also the first manufacturer to put TFT screens, secondary color sub-displays, VGA displays, as well as megapixel and optical zoom camera modules in our favorite gadget.
In Japan, Sharp is much revered by phone fanatics. MobileBurn was lucky enough to chat with Hiroyuki Takahashi of Communication Systems and Hiromi Morita of PR division from Sharp.
I'm wrapping up the Dopos S300 (HTC Star Trek) review, it's a great looking device. But I found myself using the K800i a lot more when it arrived, ah well. I still prefer the Sony UI. It's almost surreal carrying out USD1000 worth of gadgets out to Mongkok this afternoon.
The SE K800i is like a dream, no complaints apart from the prce, the lack of document reader and status LED
trapped in the maze of time..6:14 AM
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
SonyEricsson event at Peninsula Hotel top floor (28th floor FELIX) supposedly the best business hotel in the world, well, indeed I peed on Hong Kong (if you have ever heard of the bathroom there) the food was good, wasn't great for the price (you know A1-bakery is actually really good?)
I wasn't too interested in the new tennis TV ad I was only there for the experience (have you ever been invited to the Peninsula? lol) and to pick up my K800i for review
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
NTT DoCoMo's new 702iD series, nothing new MOTO razr coming to japan finally, 3G versions of course
wilcomm and Sharp's wzero3es looks better
that's a dual keyboard phone with 2.8" VGA screen, overall size smaller than the original wzero3 still kept the WiFi and BT
we also have 3 new DCs from samsung, all black new design too, for once samsung quits copying
I'll be reviewing the Dopod S300 (HTC star trek) this week
trapped in the maze of time..5:30 AM
Sunday, July 02, 2006
I don't know how many of you have asked the question, or been asked the question of whether Hong Kong has changed after 1997. Well, that's a tough one. Yes and no. No if you don't give a schitte or you're reading USA Today that makes such a big fuss about one more soldier getting killed in Iraqiland everyday. International news section is painstickingly small and irrelevant. You want to know what’s irrelevant? Read SCMP, the paper is a poorly managed grocery store (let alone the language, good luck with learning Engrish from SCMP).
First thing China did in 1997, was that they changed the voting system in the Legislative Council, reducing the power of making changes to ordinances. It was changed from overall-majority to grouped-majority. Smart move, and I bet 90% of the Hong Kongers didn't know. And that's the whole PRC strategy, nobody asked, nobody cared, nobody knew. A stable bumpless ride, whoops I'm pregnant and who's the father?
If you want to know what's changed in Hong Kong after 1997, look at two things.
A. read the paper headlines today. 5 categories.
1. communist papers that don't sell at all, making loss every year without consequence as the money comes from some “influential” people at the back. that only reports on how Hong Kongers celebrated July1st since the economy is going up, society is "stable" and everybody love(d) Donald T (DaGongBao, WenHuiBao etc)
2. strategically leftist papers that play with numbers and apathic language to tell their new Communist shareholders that HK don't give schitte about universal suffrage, that everybody at the demo were uneducated, stupid, irrational, falungong-possessed, pro-taiwan-independence, and blaspheming the "status quo". Whereas an average Honkie is happy sitting with their AC at home watching TV: entertaining July1st politically-correct celebration special. (Oriental Daily, The Sun)
3. extreme rightist paper (singular: apple daily is the sole survior) that reports on how angry everybody was at the Demo for universal-suffrage, how it was a "success" a few years ago "forcing" Tung Chee-hwa out of the office and the fire must burn on
4. midline papers that's more balanced with their report, cut the page exactly in half and report on both sides, quoted all numbers from all parties (MingPao, XinBao)
5. cowardy papers that don't tell you nothing, downplayed and whitewashed all the goo from yesterday, in case they get pressured by "influential" people (SingTao daily etc). ah, everybody loves worldcup
B. Read the government(s) statements (HKSAR Government and Central Government)
Here's the official statement from SAR Government yesterday. "Although the constitutional reform package, which represented a step forward towards universal suffrage, put forth by the Government last year was not passed by the Legislative Council, we remain fully committed and determined to promoting democratic development in accordance with the Basic Law, and attaining the ultimate aim of universal suffrage in the light of the actual situation in Hong Kong. This is the Basic Law's requirement. It also represents the common aspirations, which is shared by the Central Authorities, the Government and the public. The Government has been exploring actively possible models for implementing universal suffrage for selecting the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council, and plans to draw conclusions early next year. The Government will make public the report, reflect the conclusions to the Central Authorities, and then commence the next stage of work.”
Read the first sentence of the statement again.
The government believes in its own lies. The reform package was a step to wonderland, a wonder-what-the-hell-happened-last-night-land. It was pushed by few people desperately before their term so that they could be promoted, it was pushed through against all odds: debate at the legco and a pitifully short public review. Universal suffrage claimed by the government referred to the district council (which is pretty useless), whereas the appointment system was not changed. What we have constantly been asking was to have a Chief Executive of our own, thats the whole point of not staying under the british colonial rule. If you read USA Today, you'll get the first statement and you'll be in wonderland.
Donald kept his mouth shut for the whole day, why? He's only a puppet from central government, and he's not allowed to speak what he really thinks. "High autonomy guaranteed by Basic Law" my a$$.
Statements of the PRC government? Oh they're not into official statements, they're into unofficial statements made by "influential" people, and when these rednecked S.O.B. talk, they attack personally, because they're cannot be articulative otherwise and they don't know enough about the Law. (politically uneducated) This tells you a lot about Chinese politics, that it's about the person not about the situation. And this mentality is corrupting Hong Kong today.
The central government doesn't follow the Basic Law which was co-drafted by themselves. Very Chinese indeed. It's about the person, I get to pick the leader because I know his daddy, I know his daddy because he's on the same board as my daddy's mom. I pick his son today because his daddy covered my auntie's a$$. Happy family.
The July1st march that I was in wasn't entirely white either. Falungong distributing brochures in boxes air-mailed from Taiwan, Anson Chan with an intention that nobody knows but her, Democrats that are only slightly more educated than communists. I agreed with the banner however, and that should be the intention prima.
Just because a doctor cannot heal himself doesn't mean that Medicine is disproved
trapped in the maze of time..12:16 AM
Saturday, July 01, 2006
where were you today. were you at the demo? were you shopping? I did both.
I was there because I don't want Hong Kong to become a colony of China.
(excuse me for putting up a tabloid headline, the rest of the newspapers are so leftist , not that I like appledaily but I have no choice)
trapped in the maze of time..7:08 AM