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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Google Wave Invite

I know everyone must feel that Google Wave's invite is like the gold ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and it won't hurt if I squeeze in :)

Any kind soul to share their invites with me? It will be greatly appreciated.


Phoenix Bakery in Los Angeles

LA Times has two articles about the Phoenix Bakery in LA Chinatown today. I have been there a couple times, but I prefer the newer Bakeries such as JJ Bakery and Nini Bakery.

The two LA Times articles.
Yes, I know most of the bakeries around where I live. My major complaint is why don't they stock Soy Bean Milk? Most stock soft drinks, some Boba, but no Soy Bean milk.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

China and Iran

Interesting article from the Washington Post - Oil, Ideology Keep China From Joining Push Against Iran

Title is not that great. I would change it to self-interest keeps China from joining the push against Iran. The self interest for the Chinese Government is keeping the Chinese Economy in the best shape possible.


Another Scam E-Mail

New scam I have not seen before...

I did a bit of Google-ing on this since it was a new one. It seems they used to say Dear Manger and used a hotmail address in the past.


From: =?gb2312?B?U3Bhcmsg?=
To: sales@childbook.com
Subject: childbook

Dear childbook Team,

Good day to you

We received a formal application from Netlon Company are applying to register " childbook " as their website and internet brand name in European, American and Asian area on Sep 29th 2009. During our auditing procedure we find out that the alleged Netlon Company has no trade mark nor patent even similar to that word. Hence we need you confirmation for two things,

First of all, whether this alleged Netlon Company is your business partner or distributor in business world.

Secondly, whether you are interested in registering these domains and internet keyword.

(.eu/.asia/.cn/.com.cn/.com etc)

This is a letter for confirmation. If we haven't receive your reply. We will automatically confirm application from Netlon Company after this audit procedure.

Yours Faithfully,


Registration Commissioner

China Anti-Cybersquatting Organization

'Tel: +00852 8135 9416

Web: www.mwwgroup.cn

Confidentiality Statement:

The information in this email is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the addressee. Access to this email by anyone else is unauthorized. If you are not an intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution, or other action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this message in error please be advised of your obligation to immediately notify sender of the error in transmission, and to destroy all associated documentation.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Mixed Race in China

Good article to read - Can a Mixed Race Contestant Become a Chinese Idol?

But there is a lot of food for thought in the article. She was brought up by her Chinese Mother, her Father is African American, and she was in the top 30 for an American Idol type show.

My daughter is mixed so I found the article very interesting. May be Taiwan has a slightly different attitude on race because President Chiang Kai-shek's son, the third President of Taiwan, married a Russian lady he met while studying in Russian.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

National Day Parade - 60th Anniversary

The number 6 in Chinese is lucky because in Mandarin it sounds like sleek or fluid. In other words everything is working smoothly, which is always nice for business! Of course in English the number 6 has a few issues (Book of Revelations 13:17-18).

So the 60th anniversary of the found of the PRC is a big occasion. Some pictures that show how serious the Chinese Government is taking this. There is also a report that China is using models from as far away as Singapore for their women soldiers.

Some items I am not 100% clear on, and my guesses:

The question is why is China making this such a huge deal by showing lots of new military equipment?
My guess is for internal nationalism showing how far China has advanced.

Why is Tian'anmen closes to visitors as National Day countdown begins?
To avoid possible embarassment

Why were 3 Japanese Journalists beat up for taking photos of the parade preparations?
This one I don't understand, there are so many pictures in taken with cell phones and such this does not make sense.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Red to Green China - A new Sputnik

I have been seeing articles about this for a while and Thomas Friedman's column is very convincing to me. Friedman: New Sputnik

He see's China's government focus on green technology as a new Sputnik, and with the US not even aware how how China is focusing on the future, while the US is focused on older industries.


Friday, September 25, 2009

China’s Threat Revives Race for Rare Minerals

China’s Threat Revives Race for Rare Minerals - NY Times.

The law of supply and demand still works! China was going to stop the export of rare earths used in many high tech areas, but because of the threat a lot of new sources are being developed and a bit of anti-Chinese purchasing of mineral properties abroad has happened.

Basic Physics - For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Missing E-Mails and SPAM

A story I read today mentioned that 97% of all E-Mails are SPAM.

So why is your inbox not flooded with this stuff? ISP's do an amazing job of getting rid of the majority of SPAM, but unfortunately sometimes they go a little too far... Which is frustrating for legitimate E-Mail senders like me. And I am sure some E-Mails from customers have also accidentally gone missing.

The solution, resend when it. Just as Mail can go missing, the same things happen with E-Mail. Sometimes E-Mails can even take a day to arrive, and is not instant. And there are outages that happen if you use an online Mail solution. And if you have E-Mail on your desktop/laptop, sometimes there are crashes that happen.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Site is up!

The new design for Childbook.com is up!

I am currently in bug hunting mode. The headache with new designs is making sure everything works with it, and fixing those things that no longer work. And also putting back those enhancements that were put in with the old design, that are no longer there with the new design.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Chinese Adoption - Explosive Article on LA Times


Chinese babies stolen by officials for foreign adoption - LA Times.
In some rural areas, instead of levying fines for violations of China's child policies, greedy officials took babies, which would each fetch $3,000 in adoption fees.

China needs to do something about their corruption issue. This is a bad situation for all involved, and I don't see any good solutions.

In a perfect world all adopted children and "possible biological parents" would have DNA testing done. But, unfortunately this is not going to happen. China's government, in my opinion, is going to want to sweep this under the rug as it is the 60th anniversary of the revolution and attempt to contain the scandal and minimize any unfavorable publicity.

Related Posts:

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apple Computers & Chinese in Snow Leopard

Chinese works great in Snow Leopard! I was at an Apple Store last week and a sales person changed it to Traditional Chinese and my wife could use the track pad to write characters! It's a lot faster for her to write the characters, than type them currently.

We could have done this at home, but getting time on my daughter's Apple is challenging!

May be I should get a program that teachers her Chinese typing... I wonder what the equivalent to Mavis Beacon is learning Chinese typing?

My wife mentioned she wanted a new computer and I am leaning toward a Mac. Currently we have mostly PC's running XP and my daughter's Mac running Leopard. I like the PC because of MS Access that can do a lot of neat reports. With a new PC it would be Windows 7. I bought the Mac because I did not want to go the Vista route, MS had discontinued XP Home, and I was tired of playing IT manager at home. For work I have all PC's because of cost, but my daughter's Mac is a lot of fun to use and easy to set up. Compared to my daughter's previous PC that somehow got a nasty virus that took about a week to get rid of (it took 2 different anti virus packages to get rid of it and I spent a good 20 hours on that project).


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fair article on President Chen's Trial

Yes, I just got my weekly Economist... The trials of Ah-Bian

From my limited knowledge of the issue - the article is fair and asks some important questions. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, my guess is it's about halfway finished and I have no idea what the end result will be.

I know both strong Blue, Red, and Green people, so I try to avoid discussions on this explosive topic. It also keeps me from getting kicked out of my house :-)

Previous Post:

Jailing of Ex President - Good or Bad for Taiwan?


Economic Vandalism - China US Trade Dispute

I am very worried about a possible trade war with the US and China.

The Economist cover story - Economic Vandalism.

The cover on the economist is disturbing, as it should be. The summary I agree with 100%:

A protectionist move that is bad politics, bad economics, bad diplomacy and hurts America. Did we miss anything?

Relevant Posts:


Listening - Why it's important

Listening - real listening - is difficult because it requires a real investment: of focus, and empathy, and time. Worse yet, it's not even clear what the payoff is going to be. (You have to listen to find out!) It's easier to leave it undone and move on to the next thing.

A great quote from the article, Listening is Hard from Good Experience.

When you call ChildBook, I'm the one who answer the phone and I find it extremely useful talking to customers. Some days the amount of time it takes is frustrating, but over the longer term I view this as a key competitive advantage of childbook of listening to our customer. Finding out what they care about related to Learning Chinese and doing our best to take care of them.


College Costs - A Major Worry

My daughter is a junior and college costs are scary. A friend's daughter is going to Duke and is paying with tuition and room and board $60,000 a year. After 4 years there will be a sunk cost of $240,000. The Washington Post has this article showing an increase in default rates Well Educated and Flat Broke in student loans.

For ethnic Chinese the name brand school for their children is extremely important and parents will sacrifice an incredible amount for it. This explains the SAT classes, after school classes, and all the other extras and pressures that many ethnic Chinese in the US put on their kids to succeed and go to a great colleges.


Dragon Wings

Oakland CA Chinatown Makes Aviation History - SF Chronicle.

I did not realize this was a real story, I have the book that is very highly rated by my customers.

Dragon Wings
Our Price: $6.99
Product Rating
4.7 stars
(3 Ratings)

Dragon Wings, Their Dream Was To Fly.

A young boy journeyed from China to join his father in San Francisco Chinatown.
His father's dream is to build and fly his own airplane.

Great book to learn about the Chinese immigrants in the early 20th century.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back 2 School Night

I went to my daughter's back to school night tonight (High School), so a bit beat.

Major parent goal of the Chinese parents there was to do everything they could to help their child. One way to do that was to let the teacher know they were there, so lots of introductions. A great example of that was in my daughter's 6th period class. I waited to the parents were done introducing themselves, asking a few questions, and left and asked what I was curious about, which was how laid off teacher was doing. Teacher is a super talented music teacher, and luckily found a great position with another school. He got laid off because he moved districts to my daughter's school two years ago, so he only had two years of tenure in this school district. Even though he had been teaching for many years (very unfair, my understanding is same thing happens with salaries in California, which is why most teachers after a couple of years don't move school districts).

I still like the Middle School Math teacher who gave extra credit for doing a worksheet, so you had the parents working with their kids doing it with cell phones out asking for help in some circumstances.

We got a pass for a quiz, which made the trip worthwhile. A teacher knew my wife and I, so he said only one pass for family and and called our daughter's name, which my wife and I just laughed when that happened! I then got the lecture about keeping a "low profile" from number one daughter. Since my wife and I are different elasticities, most teachers don't immediately figure out we are together.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

World’s largest solar research center — in Xian, China

Interesting for what this means:

world’s largest solar research center — in Xian, China

From Thomas Friedman's column - Have a Nice Day.

My take on it:
  1. China is a source of relatively cheap Engineering.
  2. Huge demand in China for solar technology due to government requirements for Clean Energy.
  3. US is lagging behind in the Solar demand.


Online Mooncakes

ChildBook's page with the list of online stores that sell moon cakes are currently being updated.

Many people are finding it convenient to send moon cake gifts to loved ones by ordering over the internet.

However, an article in ChinaDaily also warns of the safety of mooncakes bought online. Unlike in stores where the customer can inspect the cake, one has no idea of the quality of the moon cake. It is noted that moon cakes have a short storage life. Some ingredients spoil quickly, such as the nuts and lotus paste.

I appreciate the warnings, but my 2-cents: us online retailers are very careful with our name, and our products are closely related with our brand. Even one complaint can make or break an online business. I think online food retailers also take into thoughtful consideration the time for shipping and delivery of their food products. So hopefully, these online mooncakes have been made to last a reasonable time and not harm the consumers.

As consumers, it is also better to be on-guard of food ordered online and not ingest products with questionable quality.

Please check our list of online mooncake retailers. A disclaimer though: We are not related to any of these online stores, but we are just listing it down for the convenience of ChildBook customers who are interested to order mooncakes online.

Now I'm craving for mooncake... :-)

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chewy Chicken Feet May Quash a Trade War?

I disagree, this is a lot bigger than the article suggests. The strong and fast reaction of the Chinese government shows this..
Chewy Chicken Feet May Quash a Trade War - NY Times.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Good article - China-U.S. Trade Dispute Has Broad Implications from the NY Times. The one part is missed was how fast China responded. Announcement by US was made Friday night, and Chinese response was by Sunday. Very unusual speed...

And on the other side... Tire Tariffs Are Cheered by Labor


Sunday, September 13, 2009

China's Response to Tire Tariff

Trade War?

In latest export salvo, China takes aim at U.S. auto parts and chicken products - LA Times.

The US applied a Tire Tariff and China is now responding with this, on top of the WTO appeal. I believe that the past humiliation of China by Western Powers (see Qing Dynasty and Modern Chinese Nationalism) will make it so China sees the need to retaliate to prove that the Chinese government is not allowing the United States to take advantage of China. My guess is the US executive branch was more focused on Health Care and using this as a feel good way at minimal cost to look tough on trade , and misgauged the reaction from China.

Personally, if I was in the US government I would become very worried about this development...

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Jailing of Ex President - Good or Bad for Taiwan?

The Economist in an article asks an important question - Is jailing an ex-president a blow against corruption in Taiwan or a sign of persecution?

My view point is it's great that Taiwan is taking action against corruption and showing that nobody is above the rule of law, but...

1. The life sentence for the ex President and his wife is extreme, and will result in a backlash against the KMT

2. The sentence increases the polarization in Taiwan between the Green and Blue parties.

3. It damages any belief the judicial system is not KMT dominated (a 3 panel judge that had released the ex President was replaced by another panel that imposed the life sentence).

4. By using the judiciary in this manner, the KMT leadership risks being handled the same way in the future when they lose power (probably not for a while since the Green party/DPP has internal challenges - similar to the US Republicans in some ways).

5. It sends a very interesting message to the Chinese people, that even a President may be sent to jail.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Qing Dynasty and Modern Chinese Nationalism

This article is fascinating for what it tells you about China's nationalism:

Qing Costume Dust Up At Elementary School - Danwei

A question a non-Chinese may ask, is why is there such strong feelings over the Qing Dynasty with:

An author being slapped? The schools web site being hacked? The Qing's being called barbarians?

The Ching or Qing Dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China (no, we are not going to argue over whether any Chinese governments since the 1911 revolution were dynasties, or certain leaders acted like emperors). The Qing dynasty was from an ethnic group called the Manchus, that are a small minority of Chinese (just under a million), or less than 1% of China population. During the Qing Dynasty China was humiliated by foreign powers, including the Opium War, Boxer Rebellion, Japanese occupation of Taiwan, and the Sino Japanese War.

After the dynasty was overthrown the Treaty of Versailles gave the German possessions in China to Japan and the US support of Taiwan in 1949 and the 1969 Russian border incident all impacted China. The acts that Japan did during WW2 (rape of Nanjing for example) are seen as foreign powers humiliating China.

The end result is there is a very strong degree of nationalism in China and anger at how China was humiliated in the past. Part of the communist parties way to keep in power is by using Nationalism and the need for a strong China to keep in power. The danger of course, is if they are seen as not Nationalistic enough. The rise of the Internet and texting has made managing this balance, of enough nationalism to keep China united, and not to much to upset neighbors has been challenging as seen with the relations with Japan.


China May Appeal Tire Tariff to WTO

China May Appeal Tire Tariff to WTO - Something to keep your eye on. The WTO does take a while to act, which may help politically. This way both sides can claim victory while the WTO is evaluating the case.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Julie & Julia - Blog Movie

My family finally made time around my daughter's schedule and saw a movie tonight, Julie & Julia. Her SAT class had been moved to Monday, so she had the night off.

Fun movie that made all of us hungry after seeing it! I understand the pressure of blogging everyday!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grandparent's Day: September 13th

What are you planning for this special day? A sumptuous dinner with Gramps and Grans, or treat them in a nice spa treatment that they deserve?
Give back the love to the people who loves you so much this Sunday! And strengthen the bond between Grandparents and your kids.


Or you might find nice coloring stuff your kid would love to do for her/his grandparents at our free coloring pages

And to hear different Chinese terms for Grandma and Grandpa, listen to some Chinese words.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

E-Mail Delay

My E-Mail server got upgraded a couple of days ago...

More space, faster, etc... from an industry leader - rackspace

Unfortunately a setting to forward the E-Mail to my Gmail account (great for spam filtering) did not work after the so called upgrade. So I was getting about 40% of my normal E-Mails. I was getting all the sales@childbook.com, but not the others.

I was all excited this morning since I was almost caught up! From my vacation and then the 3 day weekend. Then I found out about the E-Mail problem, figured out how to get the 150 or so E-Mails, mostly the type I need to reply to, download them, and start replying.

Just a few more to go! Good news is problem has been found and fixed. Challenging part is so much for my plans on being caught up today!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Colleges Are Failing in Graduation Rates

I did not realize that so many colleges fail to graduate their students within 6 years... A couple of examples only had 33% of their students graduating within 6 years!

NY Times article. Colleges Are Failing in Graduation Rates

Something else to look at when considering a college.


China Alarmed by US Money Printing

From the UK Telegraph - China Alarmed by US Money Printing

China is a huge investor in the US and is being briefed at the highest levels on the US government financial plans.

Interesting quote:

"He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing," said Mr Cheng.

It was a quote from US founding father Benjamin Franklin.

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New Chinese Legends Book

Here's something that will interest small and bigger students learning to read Chinese.

Chinese legends are always fascinating for the young and old student. And now, we have a book set with a bunch of them, entitled "Three Kingdoms". It's a set that has 2 books, but 38 stories total in Traditional Chinese. Most of the stories tell about the turbulent times of the Three Kingdom period.

It will be out any day soon, just fixing things up but it's already there. It's a great supplement material to practice reading Chinese.

Meanwhile, the Three Kingdoms CD-ROM is also available, so kids can also see the stories in animated in the computer.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Running your own business

I was reading an article in the NY Times that was uncomfortable reading - Out of Work, and Too Down to Search On.

It hit home personally. After Y2K there was a recession in the technical area and it was not a fun time for technical types like me to get hired. Hiring was frozen. The good news was I got a lot of experience substitute teaching that taught me a huge amount about teaching and started work on my teaching credential/masters.

Running your own business is a great alternative and I appreciate how supportive my family has been on this. ChildBook is 12 years old, but most of the time I was running it at night. So I would have my day job, then at night do Childbook (exhausting). After I left my last outside job over two years ago as a Director of just about everything (started as marketing, kept on getting areas assigned to me such as HR, IT, and Quality), I took the opportunity to work full time on my business and it has been challenging.

My business plan missed the fact that the worst recession since the Depression would come along a year into my full time odyssey. Being very open, it has been a very challenging retail experience. The good news is I have kept on improving ChildBook to make it an even better shopping experience as well as expanding my inventory.

Many people ask me how ChildBook is doing, usually Chinese. I often have this feeling they are checking if they should start a business doing the same thing. Some of the questions I have gotten include how much are your sales, how many employees do you have, etc. And people will copy what your doing! They will open the same exact business right next to you. A family friend has a Taiwanese Restaurant and somebody opened the exact same type of restaurant right next to them (landlord should not have allowed this), which resulted in a price war. The other business finally left.

I am very open that selling Chinese Children's Learning Materials is a challenging business. From getting quality items, keeping the web site going, translations, marketing, answering phone calls, and there is a surprisingly amount of competition. Dealing with customers can be very challenging and my goal is to be fair to them, and my business.

For me, I am very happy working on ChildBook. It is using all the skills from my previous positions working for other people that I have learned so much from and giving me the chance to apply it to my own business. I have been very lucky working with some brilliant people that I learned so much from (thanks Rob, Dan, Steven, Komal, Andrew, Sani, Jeff Z., and many more at Mall).

Future plan are to keep on improving Childbook with the top goal of providing a great shopping experience, from the first click on the site, selecting the right product, to dealing with returns.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Solar Water Heating Huge in China

China, green? In the case of solar water heating, yes LA Times.

If you go to Scotty's Castle in Death Valley, you will see a still functioning Solar Water heater from the 1920's. There used to be a huge amount in Southern California, but cheap Natural Gas doomed them. Slight come back in the Carter era, but that went away after the subsidies did.

Now they are coming back again! And China is leading the way. Interesting.

I wish California was pushing more of them, they just make sense for many areas. The temperature was around 100 F this entire week!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

China Web Sites Seeking Users’ Names

China Web Sites Seeking Users’ Names - NY Times

I would not be surprised if this changes...


Friday, September 4, 2009

Blog Posting Challenges

For some reason the blog date is not updating. It may be because there are so many posts! And that is a lot of data for blogger to ftp in. I am not sure, but frustrating...


Thursday, September 3, 2009

iPhones in China

An announcement has been made that the iPhone is finally getting a license in China.

The questions questions:

1. What functionality will be disabled in the iPhones.

a. My guess is GPS - since locations can be a state secret, other countries have disabled this. May be they have not heard of google earth...

b. WiFi access for the Internet. This way it's easier to track people's internet access.

2. Is this going to have an impact on the price of used iPhones? The most important question :-)


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Critical Phase in China US Relations?

Envoy's Challenges in China Wall Street Journal

Interesting quote:

Relations between China and the U.S. are at a critical phase, with the next few months likely to test whether the two sides really have built strong and lasting ties, said the new U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr.

And what is being listed as priorities? Climate change, the global economy and military ties?

My opinion, #1 priority for China is the economy.

Military is interesting, but does not involve the US besides having the US sell as little military equipment to Taiwan as possible for the near future, while China upgrades their military slowly, but surely.

Climate Change, on paper this is a priority for China, but with the economy currently I wonder...


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

China Tightens Grip on Rare Minerals

China Tightens Grip on Rare Minerals - NY Times. It seems because China is willing to accept environmental damage that produce more of these rare metals (my take on the article). Interesting since the rare earths are used in magnets that are used in more efficient electric motors used in hybrids, windmills, etc.

And China may be able to leverage this to help it's manufacturing area...


Chinese Dress and Kung Fu Pants Set for Kids this Moon Festival

Moon Festival, San Francisco

Have you ever attended a Chinese Festival in your area and let the kids wear a Chinese dress or a Kung Fu set?

This year's Moon Festival is on October 3 and for sure there will be a fun Moon Festival event near your area.

Dressing up is always fun and you and the kids can pretend to be a Chinese princess or the Monkey King as you go around the food booths and watch the programs.

Or if your family wants to go out on a night picnic on the night of October 3rd, wearing a Chinese dress or pants set is also fun (Just bring extra jackets in case the night is chilly). We have books with nice poems that everyone can read. Bring moon cake along and other munchies.

ChildBook is continuously updating the Moon Festival Calendar of Events in US states and some Canada areas so please see if there are already posted Moon Festival activities near you.

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