All posts by Erwin

Last Week’s Terrorism Arrests

Last Week’s Terrorism Arrests: And if you want to know what you can do to help? Don’t be terrorized. They terrorize more of us if they kill some of us, but the dead are beside the point. If we give in to fear, the terrorists achieve their goal even if they were arrested. If we refuse to be terrorized, then they lose — even if their attacks succeed.

Bruce Schneier’s (Worlds best known Cryptographer/Digital security expert) words about Terrorism… I wish this is something that would be recited in the USA right along side the pledge of allegiance. The pledge not to let the terrorists win….


Shanghai is truly a cosmopolitan city. Every week I bump into people from France, UK, Australia, Germany and others. This morning, I met an Iranian businessman – a steel trader. He went to USC (in LA) 10 years ago but otherwise has been living in Tehran. He lives in just upstairs from me.

China and Japan…

Tonight I bumped into by far the most interesting cab driver I’ve ever met. A former member of the Chinese Navy. Young. Still in his late 20’s. He loves China. He loves Germany in spite of their prior colonization of China – pointing out that their “colony” in northern China was even larger than France. He loves America in spite of China being at war with America during the Korean War. He loves all the western countries for one reason or another… But he hates Japan. He feels the Japanese have never paid for the sins they committed in Nanjing, the rest of China, the rest of Asia… He is very much not alone in his feelings. This one man to me is representative of China, if such a representative can be found. He’s not terribly worried about his own civil rights while half his countrymen are barely surviving on family farms. He said that American’s just don’t understand that though the Chinese Communist Party has the same name as that defeated Russian political party, it’s totally different. It’s only the same name, but nothing else. In his heart he wishes for peace, but he feels the Chinese can’t build their military fast enough. He feels the Japanese are still a huge threat and feels that Taiwan is part of China. We didn’t talk about Tibet…

Chinese Joke of the Day…


Translation… (Sorry, can’t remember the english names for XiaoLingTong and LianTong)

Nowdays, wives are like XiaoLingTong: economical, have real tangible benefits, but very limited usage. Mistresses are like a fixed line phone: safe and stable, but you can’t take it outside. Girlfriends are like China Mobile: very convenient but too expensive. Lovers are like LianTong: tasteful and fashionable, but frequently out of service.

Yet another example of the prevalence of the “二奶” (mistress) in modern-day Chinese culture…

Treo Clean Install Procedure

  1. Install quickTake to document each step
  2. Install and activate latest versions of CJKOS to avoid any issues with transmitting encoded data
  3. Install and activate Pen Power. (Why doesn’t it start up by default?)
  4. Clean install of each remaining Palm Application File
  5. Open and Enter Serial Numbers inside of: Chatter, NesEm, PlectoDict and Documents to Go
  6. Configure Phone Ring Tones and Disable Annoying SMS Alerts
  7. Download clean Memo, Calendar and Contact database for Mac

We’ll see how the procedure goes in the morning…

Treo… The good and the bad…

No time to blog about anything interesting today as my Treo is having issues. Probably time for a clean reboot. Before I pull the trigger I need to put together a list of the required steps to bring this thing back to the land of the usable. I could use the Missing Sync feature to backup the installed files, but then I would end up with whatever mysterious set of files and preferences have collided to cause the current set of problems.

How funny… I just noticed that I used to have Documents To Go installed on my Treo, but I must have deleted it accidentally a while back. Used it so infrequently I just now noticed. Sort of like MS Office on my Mac. It seems that we’ve finally passed the turning point of the ubiquitous Word Document in favor of HTML. Still wish I had Excel for Windows on my Mac. Excel for Mac itself is not nearly as good.

Just finished up the “Clean Reset” and sure enough, all of the problems my Treo was having were “restored” along with everything else that was backed up… So, tomorrow morning I have to do a hand install. Let’s hope I don’t forget to set the encoding first…

Heck, I don’t have time to configure it all over again… Let’s hope the Missing Sync restore process can just get it done right. Might have a story about Blendtec blenders coming up…

Military budget of the People’s Republic of China: Information From

Military budget of the People’s Republic of China: Information From

I’ve head a few comments about PRC military spending… If you’ve lived here, you won’t be surprised to find that nobody has the real numbers on PRC spending. Assuming that most of the PRC’s military spending is on domestic materials and employees, the PPP of that spending is actually quite significant.

Seems that Rumsfeld was questioning that spending a while back… Asking for more transparency. Seriously, if transparency were to start somewhere here, do you really think it would be with the military budget numbers? Sounds like he was looking to start a fight. Wouldn’t be the first time.

On the other hand, it seems most of the China related content on Wikipedia has been commandeered by Taiwanese folks. Not saying the facts are wrong, but I do sincerely question Wikipedia objectivity concerning the PRC. Seems the Great Firewall questions that objectivity as well…

Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Kanji and Stuff…

It’s a little bit complicated, but I’ll try to make a chart to help you make sense of it. In any case, here’s a summary I wrote for a friend of mine:

The japanese name for Chinese characters is “Kanji”. In Japanese, all Chinese characters can technically be used as part of the language. Japanese also has it’s own special characters called “Kana”. Kana is pretty simple… Just a few strokes per character. Often looks like rows of slashes…. Korean and Japanese both give Chinese characters adopted meanings in their language, though the meaning isn’t necessarily *exactly* the same in each language… Of course pronunciation is all over the map.

If I’ve got a few spare minutes today, I’ll use OmniGraffle and put together a little chart of how they all (including Vietnamese!) fit together…

Shanghai: The New Paris?

Is China trying to seal away France’s claim to fame as the world’s “most romantic city“? This year Valentines Day will strike 3 times in China. First, the western celebration of St. Valentine on February 14th (translated “Lover’s Day”). Additionally, the 7th Day of the 7th Month on the Chinese Calendar (NongLi 农历) is also “Lover’s Day”. But best of all, this year the 7th month comes twice on the Chinese Calendar, so 28 days from now it will be Valentine’s Day for the 3rd time in 2006… But only here in China.

So, does this mean that China is the most romantic spot on the planet? Or is China the spot on the planet most in need of some romantic assistance?

In case you are interested, the Chinese name for the Chinese calendar translates as “Agricultural Calendar”. To the older generation of Chinese, this is the real calendar and the calendar we’re using right now is just some western invention that will pass… Probably some truth to that – the Gregorian calendar has only been in use since 1582 (though the Julian was nearly the same and has been in use since 46 BC)

Treo: Finally making it work…

There are a few extremely painful problems that I believe every Treo 650 user faces.

  • Wireless is “turned off” after Palm OS silently crashes… causing you to miss calls and short messages. (Radio Control)
  • LEDs that always light up at the wrong time. (LEDOff)
  • Versamail, Real Player and other programs you probably never use have the most prominent places on the “Favorites Menu”. (Filez)
  • Programs you never use like “Quick Tour” and “Welcome” are ever present in the Applications menu. (Obfuscate)

Today, let’s fix all of them without spending 0.01¥. You’ll need to download:

  • Filez: Best File Manager for Palm OS, and it’s free.
  • LEDOff: Manage your Treo’s blinking LEDs
  • Obfuscate: Hide those unused applications
  • Radio Control: Turn on the Radio after your system crashes…

Of course there are many other programs that Palm users should not be without. I’ve tried all of the 3rd party launchers and I wouldn’t choose any of them over the default launcher, though the default launcher probably works best after deleting all of the categories.

If you’re planning to waste your time blogging about your Treo, you’ll probably need the ubiquitous “quickTake” screenshot manager for $10 USD.

If you’re thinking of replacing your trusty Blackberry with your Treo, you might be able to pull it off with Chattermail+. Even supports IMAP + SSL. Of course POP works too… $40 USD. Only downside of Push Email on your Treo is the battery life will probably not be long enough. I’ve upgraded to the Seidio 2400mAh Extended Battery and carrying one device instead of two is great!

Sometime I’ll write about all of the Chinese applications that you should have on your Palm (PlectoDict, PenPower, CJKOS). These three really deserve some explanation. Each is great. Excellent together!

To round out the miscellaneous list, I would recommend the excellent free “SFCave” game… It never ends… SoundRec in case you ever need to record sound, DiddleBug for drawing, Converter for unit conversions and of course TCPMP if you want to turn your Treo into a Video iPod…

Now to figure out how to change the names of applications and their icons…

Change Hardcoded Treo Favorites Buttons…

Does your Treo have hardcoded buttons for Web Browser, Voice Mail, Real Player, Versamail and a few other Treo applications that you never use? It’s a bit cumbersome, but you can get it done. Go to FileZ, the best Palm OS File-manager and it happens to be freeware. Once you have FileZ open, go to “Internal”, then select “PhoneFavorites2“, then choose “Edit”. Inside Edit, you can simply select each record and delete it to clear out your favorites. If you just want to remove the hard coded favorites, just choose “View” to confirm you’re editing the correct one, then choose delete. Enjoy your improved Treo.

Next to change our Treo wallpaper, find out why “Radio Control” is no longer turning our phone on after soft reset, why isn’t quickTake working, and figure out how to launch Pen Power automatically after reset. Probably time to do a clean install of out Treo.

I’ll also write about disabling all SMS notifications on your Treo 🙂

Really stupid question: change “favorite” buttons?

Blog via Chatter

Lessons in Chinese retail… You walk into the store, agree on the price, the quantity. Everything is ready to go. You start counting the cash (yes, always cash) only to hear the shopkeeper say (in chinese) “Oh, but one little problem. I know we agreed on two units, but I only have one right now. How about you take the new one here, plus the display model [for the price you agreed on for two new ones]. Deal?”…

Get it writing. Twice…

Commodities | Oil that glisters |

Commodities | Oil that glisters |

Other analysts see parallels with the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s. After all, plenty of people are opining that things are different this time. Pension funds and individual investors are keen to get in on the action. CalPERS, America’s biggest pension fund, is due to decide soon whether to put money into commodities. If such a conservative operator is eyeing commodities, cynics say, then a correction must be close at hand.

Jim Rogers opened a commodity index in ’98, just before he went on a 3 year trip around the world. He talked about the commodity boom that had already started then, and it’s still going. This article in the Economist questions if the boom is coming to a close. How much of the rise in commodity prices is due to shortage and how much is due to the inflation that gets massaged away in the BLS’s “hedonic adjustments” to the CPI? Bernanke must get to see the real numbers, so up the interest rates go.