Archive | July, 2008

China University Horror: Gamble For Your Future.

My wife’s cousin from Xi’An arrived yesterday. She’s with us for a couple of days to brush up her english. My wife told me in the beginning that this will help her to get into a Hong Kong university. But by now I’ve found out much more about this topic, and it’s really scary what’s going on.

In Europe, or at least Germany, you kind of have two years to prove how good you are. The exam scores of the last two school years are more or less deciding to what kind of university you can go to. Here in China, a two day long exam decides your future. It’s held in the last month of your last year in school. That’s nuts, in my humble opinion!

Let’s say you’re a good student in China. You learn hard and well. But you’re nervous easily. So you go to the university exam for two days and you’re so nervous that you mess it up. Then it’s over! You can either spend another year and repeat the test, or you can apply for 2nd or 3rd grade universities. And here’s the horror: Chinese companies value you much more then in other countries on your university. They care a lot about the place you’ve studied. So, if you perform bad in the final exam test, kiss your future goodbye.

But that’s only half of the craziness. What’s almost more insane is the fact, that you have to apply to universities without knowing your final score. No, you have to calculate your score yourself first. When you finish the exam, you’ll receive a sheet with all the right answers and a paper for applying to universities. Then you go home, you try to remember what you wrote in the exam and you score yourself!

Once you have your final score, you look at what universities might accept you – but they don’t really tell you what kind of score you need to have. You have to check what kind of score ranges they took in the past and you have to guess if you’re in that range. Example: You calculated that you final score is 500 out of 600. So you check around, and you find out that University X in Shanghai accepted students with 475 points or more. Then you can try to apply there.

But it’s a gamble, really: If you have bad luck, the university maybe only accepts students with 510 points or more this year. Then you can only get accepted there if too little people applied – and that’s almost never the case. What’s even worse is if you calculate your own score way too low – maybe you really have 500 points, but you’re calculating defensive and give yourself only 400. Then you can never apply to a good university, because of the fact that you don’t know for sure what your score really is! Is that totally crazy or what??!

Whoever invented this system must be a sadistic fuck, really.

Last written point is the case with my wife’s cousin. She performed well but calculated her score way too low and thus applied to far worse universities than she could actually go to. Another problem is, once you’ve applied for three universities, you can’t ‘switch’ to others anymore. You’re out. Take it or leave it. So she can now study in a 2nd grade university and forget about ever getting a really good job in the future – or she can try to get into a Hong Kong or foreign university. Or waste another year of her life, repeating the exam and try gambling again. If her parents couldn’t afford a foreign university she’d be stuck with going to the universities she picked, now.

I hope China changes this system in the near future, it’s really not fair. And a person shouldn’t be judged by a two day test, everyone has a bad day every once in a while. And knowing that this test decides your future puts probably an insane amount of pressure on you, so you’re even less able to focus on it. Evil!


Terrorism in China?

Going through my RSS feeds, I just saw the article “Turkestan Islamic Party takes credit for Shanghai and Kunming bus blasts, and warns of more to come; China denies claims” published on Shanghaiist.

(…) this latest video issued by a certain Turkestan Islamic Party (…) sent a tingle down our spine. In it, a Commander Seyfullah claims credit for the following, according to an AFP report: the May 5 Shanghai bus explosion which killed three; another Shanghai attack (not sure which one exactly); an attack on police in Wenzhou on July 17 using an explosive-laden tractora bombing of a Guangzhou plastic factory on July 17 and the July 21 bombings of three buses in Kunming and Minshan in Yunnan Province

Scares the shit out of me.

Is China the new America?


How Sinico S.p.A. and a chinese friend cheated me.

I was comfortable moving to Shanghai in 2005 because I knew I had work there. Selling machines from Europe to China. Eventually, in 2006, we build up a partnership with the italian company Sinico S.p.A. – they produce tube processing automation machines. Machines, that cut long tubes in small parts and make them ready for use with operations such as facing and chamfering. These machines are great for the chinese market, since they replace manual labor, and manual labor has horrible accuracy and speed.

So, in the first year, we spend most of the time searching for potential customers, as it is normal. We collected all the customers, we traveled to them and introduced our machine, we spend a lot of time and money for Sinico. We, that was my colleague Nick Zhang (张红军), and myself. Nick was already working for my father’s company when I moved to Shanghai. Before joining my fathers company, he was teaching english in schools. Originally he is from the Henan province, but he moved around China before settling down in Shanghai.

Anyway, in September 2007, we finally signed the first contract. A big customer in the north decided to buy one of Sinicos machines. What a relief that day was! Even Sinicos big boss, Alessandro Sinico himself, flew in to China to sign the contract with the customer directly. Or so it seemed. Little did I know back then…

Actually, Mister Sinico flew to China to discuss with Mister Zhang how to get rid of us. Cut out the middle man. Mister Sinico pursued Mister Zhang to quit working for us and to work directly for Sinico. Back then, I was good friends with Mister Zhang. Hell, I even went to his daughters birthday once or twice. I never thought that someone so close would ever cheat on me.

But he did. And Sinico did. Nick quit his job all of a sudden, left our company with a one week warning – hey, this is China I thought, what can you do – and started working for Sinico. So, Nick stabbed us in the back. We paid that guy over two years a salary that was probably four or five times higher than his teaching job, we taught him about machines, we gave his family food and he slowly became part of our family company. And then, ice cold, he turns his back on us. Horrible.

And Sinico! They used up over half of our daily time for over a year – we didn’t get a salary from them, we worked on our own cost for them, as agents. And until today, July 21st 2008, they still haven’t paid us our commission for our very first sale. Unbelievable. We also invested over 3.000 Euro into catalogues. They kept them, and promised us to pay this money back. How much did we get back until now, almost a year later? None! They suck out our time and money, then we actually open the market for them, and now they don’t even have the decency to pay us at least the commission we earned with hard work. What is wrong with these people?

Last week we learned from a customer, that Mister Zhang is now even traveling around China and telling everyone how bad we are and that nobody should buy machines from us. This is really weird. It’s not enough to cheat us with money and partnerships, but now they also try to make us look bad in front of customers. Great.

Business is tough and full of bad apples. But sometimes I wonder how these people can sleep at night. How can they get up in the morning, smile at their wife’s and children and look at themselves in the mirror?


The growing Entrecard phenomenon.

I’ve been using the Entrecard service for half a year or so now, and I still think it’s a cool way to advertise on other sites and to get advertised on by others. Especially, because some really big blogs added the service to their websites – it’s not only small blogs in their portfolio, but also big ones.

And now they’ve started to cooperate with SezWho, a commenting service, which makes the whole thing even better. Because now you can also receive Entrecard credits by simply commenting on other blogs! And other people will comment on your blog, to get points, too! Of course, there’s a rating system, so that you can mark people who comment only for points as spammers. That’s really good.

And that alone is not all – for me, it’s really interesting what other blogs my readers visit. The SezWho plugin gives me the opportunity to find out just that! It’s easy to install with WordPress and works without any problem so far.

Can’t wait to see what they come up with next!


Grand Theft Auto IV sucks.

Yesterday night, I finally managed to finish the last mission. I’m now 70-something percent through the game, only having side missions and other stuff left. But I’m not gonna play that anymore. I am so damn bored from the game!

I’ve played GTA. GTA II. GTA III. Vice City. San Andreas. I enjoyed them all, except San Andreas, and after reading some reviews of GTA 4 it became clear that I would love it. And I did, for the first three days or so. I really enjoyed driving around Liberty City in 1080P Full HD listening to cool radio stations in Dolby Digital with awesome music and all.

Don’t get me wrong, visually the game is absolutely gorgeous, the best there is at the moment probably, the radio stations are great as always… There’s only one problem, and that’s a big one: The missions are so boring. So unbelievable boring.

They keep repeating themselves too much. GTA 3 and Vice City had missions that rocked so hard, they were always different and tough but yet manageable. GTA 4 has some cool missions, the bank robbery for example, or the last one. But 95% of the missions are in the end like this: You drive 5 minutes to the contact mission point. Then you drive 5 minutes to point A to pick something up. Then you drive 5 more minutes to bring it to point B. Then you drive 5 minutes back to the contact mission point for the next mission. And so on.

C’mon! One helicopter mission with shooting? And I don’t even shoot myself? Where are the tanks, the military? Why is there no mission to blow up a landing or starting airplane? Why do I only fly that idiot Brucie around all the time? Why are there 50 car pick-up missions that take hours to complete and that are not different at all?

Do young people nowadays enjoy simply driving through huge digital cities all the time?

And the police is a goddamn joke in this part. One star is like no star. Two stars are easy to get rid off, too. Three stars? Just drive fast on a long street. Four or five stars? Get to a paint shop. Boring! Too easy!

And then there’s some five missions that are so unbelievable difficult that you wonder who the hell made them and why he didn’t invent all of them. The best mission anyway, in any GTA game, was the golf club mission in GTA 3. That mission was difficult, funny, challenging, rememberable, it could be solved in different ways… Now that was a mission that you’ll never forget. I’ll remember GTA 4 as the game where I had to drive around 95% of the playing time. And that’s just sad, isn’t it?

You failed to impress me, Rockstar. Sorry. It’s great to see that you’re using all the technology to create these wonderful, colorful, vivd worlds for players – but next time, increase the budget for those who develop missions. Then it’ll be truly great.

Digg this review.


Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa.

I’ve got a little cold from all the heat, to be more precise: From all the air conditioners standing everywhere. It’s not really healthy to have sudden temperature changes from over 20 degrees, but some people simply ignore this fact. Example: When I enter our office building, the temperature changes from 38° Celsius to 20° Celsius. Is that nuts or what?

Anyway, so when I got a cold, my wife was so sweet and went to buy me some chinese medicine. She came back with a bottle containing dark fluid, the name of the medicine was the same as this title’s post: Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa.

It tastes damn good, and my eyes went big when I read through the ingredients.

Here’s what’s in this medicine:

  • Tendrilleaf Fritillary Bulb
  • Loquat Leaf
  • Fourleaf Ladybell Root
  • Indian Bread
  • Pummelo Peel
  • Platycodon Root
  • Prepared Pinellia Tuber
  • Chinese Magnoliavine Fruit
  • Snakegourd Seed
  • Common Coltsfoot Flower
  • Thinleaf Milkwort Root
  • Bitter Apricot Seed
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Liquorice Root
  • Almond Extract
  • Menthol
  • Honey
  • Maltose
  • Syrup

I thought of the beginning scene from END OF DAYS, where big hero Arnie mixes whatever he finds laying around his apartment together in a mixer for breakfast… Yummy!

Seriously though, this medicine tastes good and calms my throat down like nothing I tried before.