ebook reader

I got to try one of these out the other day, It’s a Sony ebook reader which is meant to be the future for digital publishing. It’s really slim and about the size of a paperback and can hold over 100 books on it depending on the size of the hard-disc.  I work in digital publishing so hear a lot about these things and how they will revolutionise everything but I’m not so convinced ?:-)

Granted It’s very clever and lots of design has gone into the screen which looks as crisp as I’ve ever seen a screen – apparently it uses real ink to make it look more like a real book.  Having said this I am yet  to stare at it for hours on end in order to see if my eyes hurt just as they do when you look at a computer monitor for too long. ..The battery life is almost endless with 7500 page turns before it needs changing.

I do see the advantage of being able to have 100 books on one reader, for students it could be a very useful resource and would alleviate the need to have textbooks for everything. For the traveller who can’t get editions abroad, they could have all the books they ever want stored in one location.  So for a select few it could prove to be a very useful gadget to have.

The problem is that at the moment there are very few e-format books that can be bought and downloaded from the major publishers. And so part of what I’m doing in my current job is to help get all the titles converted so they are available in E format.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m quite cynical about this.  I don’t really think many people (beyond those in digital publishing!) will go out and by one of these devices with their own money. Firstly they’re really expensive, £250 is the figure going around, just for the reader – then you need books and they cost the same price as the print equalivant!

There’s no way I’d pay £30 for an eBook, even if it was the best book ever written. :X-P:

Continue reading


Some pics from the snow this morning.  I’ve haven’t seen this much snow fall in London since I was about 5.  It hardly ever snows here and when it does it seldom gets cold enough to settle in the city. 🙂  Perhaps the rareness of it all has caused everything to temporarily shut down…Snow on Sydenham Highstreet

There must be 3 inches at most, but there are no trains and the buses have all been cancelled on ‘health and safety grounds’.   I daresay in the summer when there’s

a coupe of days with +30C temperatures, people will be dying from sunstroke, hosepipes will be banned and trains won’t run ‘because its too hot’.

It Just shows how useless people in the south of England are at adapting to different types of weather.

Other countries with far fewer resources at their disposal manage just fine. Afterall, the roads in Changchun are frozen for 3 months of the year

but they manage so much better than people do here, and on far fewer resources.    The media gets into such a hysteria over it all, making the situation worse than it really is.  Perhaps they just want something to report on?? ?:-)

I did actually try to get to work and started to walk the 6 miles or so, but I turned back and gave up as I was  constantly thinking  ‘who else in my office would bother walking this far to work‘ .   It’s cynical I know, but why bust-a-gut when you know that no-one else has bothered and you’ll get paid regardless….

In a better place  people would be rewarded for getting into work in such situations or simply would not get paid for not being there.

No excuses!   I’m sure if this was the case then most people would find a way into the office, I know I would!

Perhaps one day, people on this little island will learn to get on with life when the weather isn’t overcast and grey, (aprox 50 days per year) though I feel this will take such a seismic cultural shift, I doubt it will ever happen in my lifetime.

元 v £

It’s just my luck that now I’m working in the UK they value of the Pound to Renminbi has fallen over a third in a little over 3 months. It always used to be around the 15yuan to 1 pound mark, so that 100 yuan was about 7 pounds or so. :clown:

But now 100 yuan is worth less than 10 pounds…I saw a dodgy bureau-de-change in Chinatown offering 8.9 to the pound!! :no:

This makes China suddenly seem that much more expensive! Exporters must be feeling the pinch with this kind of strengthening in RMB – Likewise Chinese salaries don’t seem as poultry as they once did. Personally, I don’t think the Pound will get back to 15 anytime soon, with interest rates here being so low and the economy apparently about to implode… As long as the Yuan is pegged to the US Dollar, and the Pound stays weak against the Dollar this will continue.

Don’t think I’ll be going back to China until the exchange rate gets better! :beatup:

Exchange Rate

Exchange Rate

Coughs and Colds

I write this sitting in the office during my lunch break, unusually the sun is shining outside and the office is pretty much empty. The pic below shoes what I see in the evenings out of the window, It’s something I still can’t quite get used to.

Things have died down, though annoyingly I am still busy with lots of things going on. Over the last few months the atmosphere at my work has changed, the CEO has announced a pay freeze (on everyones pay except his, some thing never change!) and I am certain that more people will lose their jobs next year (despite what the business says to the contrary).

I guess you have to be positive, so in a perverted way, it gives an ideal opportunity for business to offload the dead wood, those that come to work do very little (apart from watch BBC sport online) and blame the job cuts it on the economy.


It’s that time of the year when people start to get colds and coughs and the perennial ‘flu bug’ goes round. What I’ve noticed over the last few weeks is that there is this mentality (certainly where I work anyway) where people will come to work anyway if they are not feeling well, in the hope that it will go away and they will grin and bear it.

You can’t question the work-ethic of such thinking, but for me it’s very short-sited, selfish and ultimately stupid.

I am very lucky in that I seldom get Ill, but I can’t help feeling annoyed by people that come to work with horrible coughs and colds exposing their germs and bacteria to everyone they get near to. It is selfish and stupid. So of course, those that are not sick soon become Ill and the cycle continues to the point where, last week, so many people were actually off work sick, normal operation of the business suffered.

So many people here can choose to work from home if they are not feeling great, but still feel up to working-they don’t even have to come into the office – So why is is that so many people come to work sick or coughing their guts up and spreading their diseases, when they should be at home?

Mis education

People think it will go away (which to be fair, it will do eventually) they can grin and bear it. Macho attitude – weak to admit you are sick.!

Don’t understand/don’t care just how easy it is for you to pass a cold on to another person (i.e handshake)

Attitude and social values –

Some people think its bad to be Ill and will pretend they are ok. Don’t know why this is, may be a certain stigma is attached to people who can’t work, on benefits etc…

Importance –

Some will go to work as there is something they must attend/do.

Even if they are suffering from the plague they must attend.

It’s interesting contrasting this with China.  Despite it being generally dirtier in Chinese cities and less hygienic for sure, many in the west would think the Chinese are hypochondriacs and overreact to illnesses.

There are some nasty bugs in China that you don’t get in the UK, but the obvious reason for this kind of hypochondria (beyond the fact that nobody really wants to be sick) is lack of employment rights (i.e no sick pay/statutory benefits are almost non existent) and health care costing money.

You get sick, you pay.

I don’t get it, it’s one of the (very few) advantages of the social system that exists in the UK whereby you are legally entitled to not have to go into work if you are unwell. You even GET PAID (unless you work for yourself), If you get really Ill, you continue to get paid in some cases for 6 months or more. You even get free health care, ok you have to pay for a prescription, but access to see a doctor does not cost you a penny!


I also think there is a way of doing things that has grown out of personal car ownership whereby people seldom wear warm clothes that were once worn in the UK; thermals, long coats, thick jumpers are a thing of the past. People get out of their warm cars and don’t spend long amounts of time outside like they used to – I think this is a contributor to sickness and Illness as it makes people more susceptible to illness, but I’m not doctor this is just a thought…


Maybe I am cynical in my attitude, but I think that I am almost entitled to my days off work from sickness. If I feel unwell, I wont go to work. In the UK don’t feel I have to justify this to anybody, after all I pay more than my fair share of taxation that supports this very social system :soldier: !!!  I’m not talking about abusing the system i.e. being ‘sick’ and claiming benefits from the government, rather than working. It’s more a case of making the most of what you pay for and not spreading your illness to others in the office.

In China when I was sick I would not get paid or would have to make up the hours missed. However, I paid very little tax, so when I was Ill I knew that I would have to pay from my own pocket. This is a harsher system and detrimentally affects those that are more susceptible to illness like the Old and the very young , but from a purely selfish perspective it’s better for me in my current situation!

Pros and Cons

Having worked in an office environment for almost a year, I have come to fully appreciate how much better your quality of life can be working in different environments each day.  Not just stuck indoors, at a desk, looking at a screen most of the day.  Being around  different people and having the freedom to choose how you approach your daily life does have its advantages.

I guess I am in a better position now to reflect upon these things, I guess strangely what’s best about this is that having the experience gives you the chance to put  things into a perspective that others don’t have; helps you see things in another light.

I spent almost 3 years teaching English in China full or part time and it was one of the most interesting and rewarding things I’ve ever done. At times it was tough, frustrating and difficult, but overall I still beleive it’s a positive thing to do if you ever get the chance.

Saying this,  teaching is an incredibly tiring thing to do. It is not like a desk-job – you have to constantly be on the ball and the amount of speaking/exertion of energy is quite high, which can really drain you.

I would say that it is more tiring than the 7am-7pm day I  have at the moment, even with all the commuting.

Continue reading

The Gym

I walk to work everyday through central London, I enjoy this. Not only is it an interesting place to walk through, it helps keep me healthy and saves money. 🙂  An absolute no brainer you would think.

When I tell people at work that I do this many people think I am mad. It’s only 2 miles each way, I get to walk along the thames, past st pauls and along some really interesting side streets. There is no excuse for not doing this in the summer as the weather here is not humid and the sun not very strong.

The underground transport system in London is pretty unpleasant at the best of times (more like a sewer for people) and during the rush-hour cannot cope with the amount of people who use it. It’s also expensive and dirty and prone to delays – so why do people who travel short distances still use it??

I guess its more out of routine, following the crowd – doing what they’ve alway done.  It’s a mindset, a psychology of indifference- I hope I never end up being like this. :dazed:

Looking Back

Things are so incredibly busy, but  its it’s a good busy.  Infact, I like to be busy, it makes certainly makes time appear to go faster. I still feel I’m quite lucky I still have it in my head that that starting work at 9am is late! 😀 – I am used to starting 8am during the week.  

Looking back I would say that (smug grin 🙂 ) I think was right in coming back when I did.  There is no doubt whatsoever that staying in Changchun longer would mean that getting into any type of decent profession back in the UK would have been almost impossible.  It is very competitive here, and being 25 was almost too late to enter the job market into something that I wanted to do.   Life is not so interesting here, things are more predictable and boring but perhaps that is a good  thing for a while. (?) 

 I am not that motivated by careers (which is partly why I stayed out there so long) but life is long and sometimes doing something that you don’t like for a while in order to get to a better position in  a couple of years time, makes sense to me.   Changchun is not a good place to get ahead (I will also argue that for a young foreigner like me, China also) after all – why not get trained/experience in the west when in China the prospects (for me at the moment) are considerably less. 

I also feel that in somewhere like London there is a chance to get ahead in life, to develop.  In Changchun (and China to an extent) this does not exist – unless you have serious guanxi or family ties or sleep with the boss etc…   

 I also believe (perhaps naively) that where I am now I can get places through hard-work, determination and going that extra-mile. 

In China I did not feel this at all (It is not really a place where your work goes rewarded). 

 I believe that in work at least it is possible to progress for actually being good at what you do – even if you have no connections.   Of course these help, don’t get me wrong, but there are other ways – In China there are very, very few indeed.  Making relationships, influencing friends is crucial. 

Strangely It is harder in other ways to get started in the UK, life is more expensive especially the important things such as food and petrol! 

 But people neglect to think that SO many other things are very cheap in the UK (relatively speaking) – entertainment, junk food, cars, electronics, cosmetics  and many many other luxury goods.   

I also think that many people here are spoilt and decedent (and the lifestyle to an extent is perpetuated by the whole tax/class system)  beyond belief and really need a reality check – seeing how people who have nothing live their lives.  Indeed  people here have forgotten many of the values that I find quite important  – and witnessed in China – such as being able to repair things, and not just throwing  away things for no reason.   

Life goes on 








Olympics Goldfish Trinket

Saw this in the paper this morning – lots of anti-China press on this. I get annoyed reading some of the right-wing rubbish in the papers about China, clearly written by people who have never been there in their life and so nothing about the context of what they are saying.
People here think this is incrediby cruel and selfish as the fish will only have enough oxygen to live for a few hours before suffocating. This is true and it is disturbing that for the Olympic games people are prepared to go so low as to make money from this – but if there is demand for such a product (as there is in china) then business is business.
To most westerners this is an example of the Chinese selling anything to make a quick profit, but people from here do not understand that the Chinese have a different cultural attitude towards animals, and misplace this as thinking the Chinese are cruel to animals.
Having visied the zoo in Changchun quite a few times, I know that almost all westerners would be appaled at the way in which the animals are treated – especially in being made to perform tricks – jump through hoops on fire, ride bikes and even try their hand at roller skates.

Office View

view from my offcce

I can’t really complain about having a view like this from my desk, certainly makes a difference working in this kind of environment.  Makes you realise just how much better it is to work in the UK, there are so many more opportunities for someone in my position that simply don’t exist in China at the moment.    悲伤

The working environment is so much better and balanced in favour of the employee,  you’re not just a work-machine.   People are treated as human beings and employers have rights and obligations they have to observe – which in some part help stop exploitation by business on employees.  And so (where I work anyway) generally,  people are more inclined to work harder and respect what they are actually doing as a job; paying attention to detail.  Something which I noticed (in the private sector more-so) in China was lacking if only because the work-conditions are often so poor, prospects limited or non existent and salary so low. 

In my job, sometimes it can be boring, but i seldom feel as if i am wasting my time – I don’t feel as if I should spend my time playing QQ games because nobody would notice or care about what I’m doing.  Because I am treated well, I will have no problem working hard.  大笑

I think it is rather sad that Western companies in China do not treat their employees as they do in the west.  I know that is part of the attraction of having offices in China (low fixed-costs, hire and fire easily, massive pool of cheap labour) but wouldn’t it make more long-term business sense to treat their employees in a similar fashion to their western colleagues?  

I mean, think of all of the intelligent, hard-working Chinese who when have the opportunity to leave China – simply go – a brain drain of the best and brightest because the work conditions are so much better elsewhere.

Afterall, if you have the choice of working for a multinational firm outside of China on a foreign contract, why would you want to work on a Chinese contract inside china doing exactly the same job for the same company?? 正在思考

For all the bad things about living in the UK, it is a good place to learn, gain work experience and make connections.  As much as I’d like to live elsewhere, at this moment, London is probably the best place to be in order to allow me to move on in a year or two


Been working hard. Time has been going so fast recently, have got into the 9-5 routine which isn’t great, but the work is good at least.

Still find myself taking pictures of London walking to work, at lunch and coming home even though I Spend most of my time in an office looking out over the Thames.


Kind of feel a bit like a tourist at times, anyway…


  Wrote this rant a couple of weeks ago in response to some of the stuff been shown on TV and in cyberspace –

What a total joke the torch relay is.

I was in London as the torch procession went through, and I was appalled at how big a police operation was needed just to let 1 person carry a rather small torch through a stupidly long route of 31 miles around London.

Politics aside, whoever made the go-ahead for this torch-relay through London should be out of a job.

It apparently cost the UK taxpayer 1 million pounds (1400wan) just for the policing operation – money which I pay was spent on this is a total disgrace.

Perhaps the bill could be sent to the organising committee of the Beijing Games – why should my tax go into such an event???

The government here is so afraid of upsetting the Chinese government viz-a-viz the Olympics simply because the 2012 Olympics is here in London. They realise that any action taken by them that is seen to be negative by the Chinese, will probably result in tit-for-tat reprisals in 4 years time. How pathetic. It’s only a sporting event – if anything else caused so much fuss and budget overun they would cancel the event, but because it’s the Olympics every rational thought is removed from the equation.

Personally I don’t care what anybody ‘thinks’- it’s a simple question of wasting taxpayers money on an un-necessary and pointless event.

 I have the feeling that this is the tip of the iceberg and that this is just the beginning of billions of pound of taxpayers money being thrown into the Olympic black-hole. No-body really actually know the full price of hosting such an event, or whether it is finanically a goer – the only certainty is that those that run the Olympic movement -the IOC (an unaccountable bribe-taking group of degenerates) – are lining their own pockets.

I don’t believe why many people that say sport and politics are separate – who are they kidding?

I can only think they must be incredibly naive/bordering moronic. When you have people representing their respective countries in an international event then the two will inevitably overlap.

Personally I don’t actually understand why there is a torch relay anyway? Apparently It’s a tradition started by Hitler and the Nazis in the wartime Olympics- so why is it still continued??

I think the answer is that the people behind the Olympics – the very powerful and corrupt IOC – think that the greater the publicity and build-up to the event, the more money can be made though endorsements and merchandise and the like. It’s all about corporate business being able to associate their name with the globally recognised olympic brand and make more money through exploiting this.


At the torch relay in London there were Beijing Olympic flags being given out and these long blow-up tube things that are used to make loud noises when hit together. On the reverse side of the flags wasn’t the Olympic logo, or even the Chinese flag but a large black image saying – SAMSUNG…

For those particularly nationalistic Chinese that think the Olympics is about China’s coming of age from it’s ‘peaceful rise’ – my opinion is that is only a footnote.

It’s more about western big business having a platform to advertise to a massive -as-of-yet, un-tapped market. To publicise and market it’s brands to the 1.6 billion Chinese that present a massive business opportunity in the next few years. To put this into perspective – there are about 300 million people in the US and about 500 million in the whole EU – the potential in China is massive.

I believe It’s also about those powerful people that run China doing deals and making lots and lots of money on the back of the Olympic brand. The whole nationalistic idea is a smokescreen for the true purpose of the games. Oh yes and there is a sporting event too.

I am not anti-China, It is great that somewhere like China has the chance to host such an event that It has never had the chance to host before.

If people in 4 years criticised the British government about some human rights abuses and there were protests at the London games, I can bet you that British people would not necessarily see it as a slur on their country and national identity as the Chinese have.

Here the government is separate from the identity of the country; in China it is not. To a huge extent, the communist party is China – you say something bas about the Communists then you are a threat to China.

It’s interesting reading some of the stuff you see in the UK Press about China – it almost all has negative connotations. Very few positive stories make the cut. Is this because there is are no good things to report in China? – of course not, but those are usually not so interesting stories for the viewers- plus news shown on TV here is usually negative by nature.   Just watching the BBC the other day the lead story was that ‘China is now the World’s biggest polluter’.

The coverage was ever so melodramatic, as if a milestone has been passed and that the end of the world is near and through implication China is now to blame for the most of it.   Yes the Chinese are big polluters, but the west has been doing it for more than half a century. 

For me this story was re-hashed old news and I don’t see how it could be justified as the top story on the evening news – so its no wonder when you talk to a westerner about China the first words they say are words like pollution, power-stations or human rights.

I think that people generally believe what they are fed on the news or at least subconsciously absorb the information without thinking about it. Just as the people in China are fed a news-diet of censored government propaganda, in the UK the news organisations also have their own agendas. The problem is that if a story has a potential to be sensationalised and people can relate to it through images, then it sells more papers, gets more viewers. And that’s what the bottom line is.

I’ve read lots of Chinese news sites showing articles with Chinese people getting annoyed about what’s been shown on CNN, the way it’s been sensationalised and some of the particularly dull commentary made by it’s journalists. I think Chinese people have to realise that CNN is simply sensationalising the story in order to capture more viewers/ appeal to their viewership (ie. lowest common denominator /not very thinking people ((mostly Americans in this case)) ) – something that American news channels do as a matter of course.

This is nothing new.

Just as the Chinese press is far from impartial so is the UK press – the difference is that when bad things are said about the UK by the Chinese press, people in the UK really don’t care;

People even show their nationalism throughMSN Whereas in China people are much more nationalistic and proud and therefore more sensitive to criticism (right or wrong) of the state and see it as an affront to the dignity of Chinese people. In the west we are used to hearing bad things said all the time about our country, In China you are you not.

This is in-part due to people in mainland China only ever reading and viewing what the government wants them to read/see i.e never any bad news about the Communist party – unless it’s scapegoating an individual as a means to show how the party is weeding out those so called bad apples!

There is also a slightly sinister side to this I think; when the political might of the Communist party gets behind the whole ‘China’ issue and propagates it’s view of the situation to the people.  The Chinese are very fast to jump on the bandwagon – and I would have to say If the object of their derision is non-Chinese (i.e foreigners) It is very easy to whip-up those people into nationalistic frenzy.

I witnessed this kind of reactionary behaviour during the Japanese textbook row erupted a couple of years ago. Many Chinese were incensed and threatened boycotts of Japanese goods and all sorts of other punitive actions-  But what actually happened was nothing. When it came to the crunch people were not willing to fore-go their JVCs and Toyotas.

The whole Tibet argument is not something new, it has been around for decades. Everybody in the west knows about China and it’s human-rights recordm- this is also old news.

My opinion is that this is not as clear-cut as many of the protesters like to make out, bad things go on in all countries – just they are better at keeping it secret in the west.  In my opinion  western governments have very little moral high ground, if any at all to lecture the Chinese.

It is only now that the stuff in the Chinese media has started to show less towards foreigners and more direction it at the ‘dalai clique’ (who incidentally don’t even want independence for Tibet, simply the ability to run their own affairs within a region of China like Hong Kong) – even the communists know that it’s western business that makes the Olympics what it is, and for all it’s rhetoric, Beijing wants a smooth Olympics at all costs.

There is a problem that I think the Chinese authorities have with the Olympics – for all the great economic and social achievement over the last 20 years, China is still miles behind when it comes to liberty, the rule of law, freedom of speech and ultimately, human rights. In a sense it has developed socially and economically but not politically – within China this poses no real problem but to some in the West this poses serious issues.

The huge irony in seeing so many pro-china protesters (mostly rich Chinese students) on the streets of London the other day, is that in this country (for now at least!) you are allowed to protest, to show your opinion peacefully – even if the government does not agree with it.  In China you cannot.