Thursday, August 12, 2010

First notes on China

OK, let's get this out of the way first.  On the airplane, I read in the Vancouver Sun that one of the Vancouver Public Libraries is experimenting with loaning out e-books through various digital formats and also on Kindles.  Apparently for the non-Kindle versions, the e-books self-destruct on the due date, which means no more late fees.  As well, the Kindles come pre-loaded with selected books.  Apparently, demand is exploding for the pilot project, inducing the library to go buy more Kindles.  Guess that kind of answers that question.  But only kinda.  After all, the biggest long-term consequences of any technology are often the most unexpected.  I wonder if the self-destruct mechanisms are foolproof.  Probably not?  Who knows.  It's only the pilot, folks.

On to China.

Note 1:  Shenzhen's a hot and humid city.  I thought Shanghai was a hot and humid city.  Shanghai has got nothing on Shenzhen.  Walking around today was like walking in a sauna.  I'm so glad that the warm winter's coming up, so that I can get out of the hot summer and get acclimatized more easily.  You heard me.  Warm winter.

Note 2:  I had my health examination today.  They checked my mouth, ears, eyes, heart, skeletal structure, internal organs, blood type, and urine.  And probably a few things I forgot about already.  Wow.  Does Canada check foreigners this thoroughly when they arrive to work in the country?  Initial Google check says Canada requires it if you come from a listed country.  China's on that list.  Guess it goes both ways.  :)

Note 3:  I saw a guy selling live chickens on the street from a cart.  It was amazing.  You'd never see that in Vancouver.  :)

Note 4:  After talking with a guy for an hour, I finally figured out how cell phone plans here work, and henceforth purchased a SIM card.  Not that I understand yet how to pay my monthly fees or how to add minutes when I run out (well, I do, but I have no clue how to give them my credit card info yet), but at least I got a usable mobile phone number.  Great plan, I'm satisfied with how it balances.  It's as if there's only one cell phone service here?  But oh my goodness, my Mandarin needs to get better.  I'm so glad that everyone I met here speaks Mandarin.  I haven't heard a hint of Cantonese so far.  Weird for a southern city.

Note 5:  I walked through a computer store complex (it also happens to be where I purchased my SIM card), and wow.  I mean, I've been to one in Hong Kong, another in Shanghai, and another in Chengdu.  But these places always amaze me.  How can all these people who own their own little shops all selling the exact same thing make any money?  It boggles my mind.  But they do.  I should buy a computer there.  After I find a residence.  First things first.

Note 6:  I'm moving hotels tomorrow.  This one is just too expensive.  There's one right next door where if I buy a membership, I get half price.  That also turns out to be half price of what I'm paying now as well.  The membership's 28 RMB.  You can see why it makes sense.  I found an even cheaper hotel somewhere else, but it's out in the middle of nowhere.  The current (and also the new) hotel has a ton of shops and restaurants nearby.  The taxi fees alone warrant staying in this area.

Note 7:  I ate dinner at this restaurant.  You check boxes on a menu, like at a dim sum or AYCE sushi restaurant, and they bring you the dishes.  I had to ask what the various dishes were because I can't read any Chinese characters.  I only managed to understand the main categories.  I wasn't going to go through the whole hour of trying to understand things again, so I just ordered random boxes.  It turned out I got spicy pickles and a spicy noodle soup with some radish, carrot, and beef.  It wasn't exactly horrible (thank goodness I can eat spicy stuff), but what the guys next to me were eating looked much nicer.  Too bad I ordered before their food arrived.  I think I'll start playing a random meal game.  Maybe sooner or later I'll hit a box that's simply amazing and blows my mind.

Note 8:  The air conditioning is at max and set to 5 on a scale of 5 to 30.  Does that actually mean 5 degrees celsius then?  Whatever.  But it starting to work.  And I am grateful.  Wow, it's hot and humid here.  I'm never wearing my suit here.  I'll need  buy new suits.  @@  Thankfully, the work environment is business casual.

Note 9:  Wow, I can watch Youtube here.


  1. be careful what you eat in China. You might not know enough about where your food was processed, what else got into it, and what it's really made of before it's too late and it's already in your stomach

  2. so how is your skeletal structure?

  3. Seems fine? I think? The technician didn't jump up with wide eyes or anything anyway.... :)

  4. Hey hey, glad you made it to Shenzhen safely. August is the worst time to go with the hot weather. Make sure you use Old Spice a lot!

    Sounds like there's lots to see and learn there. For the menus, you should start taking photos and translating them at home or ask a friend to read them out for you so you can put the pin yin next to it.

  5. It's time for an update, Pakg1... or else no iron man suit for you.
    You know who this is.

  6. Hey Bobby! Glad to see that you've landed safely in China and that you're having a blast and experiencing new things in spite of the negative things that happen along the way.

    It seems like you have a lot of stories to tell and I've just begun to read everything. In answer to your question below, libraries be they public, academic, corporate, government, legal, medical, museum, or non-profit, have always changed with the times. The incorporation of new technologies has changed the way we operate and do our work during the last 50 years. An example would be changing from the presently obsolete card catalogue system to an Integrated Library System (online catalogue). A library collection does not consist of just print material, it also contains audio-visual materials as well as electronic materials such as e-journals and e-books. I believe the VPL is already pretty late in loaning out e-books as many public and academic libraries have long made their electronic materials available to their patrons 24/7 via password protection (you need to be a library cardholder) on their library websites.

    Also, there's the digital divide - not everybody can afford e-books and many low-income residents depend on the public library for this. The research databases themselves cost millions of dollars each year in subscription fees. As for the electronic content contained in these databases and the e-books, you will always need catalogers to catalog and classify these materials so that people can find them when they search for them. Otherwise, they would be an unorganized mess. The very articles that one searches for in a database were cataloged/indexed by catalogers who work for the vendor, i.e. Academic Search Premier, ScienceDirect, etc. Google and Yahoo hire catalogers/taxonomists to do SEO or "catalog" webpages for them in order to enhance web search capability (so users can generate the most relevant results when they search for something on those search engines).

    The e-book is cool and the only thing that will happen is that we're just going to add them to our electronic collections just like how we added audio-visual materials and research databases to our collection more than a decade ago. =)!

    I'd also love to go on about digital preservation and electronic documents. But that would be more on the information management/records management/archives and I'm not an archivist/records manager/information manager/knowledge manager. It's related, but they're different fields. I have had thoughts about transitioning into that area. However, I'd have to complete another degree. Blah.

    Take care, Bobby! And keep up with the updates! Stay safe and be careful of what you eat!!! -hugs-!

  7. I'd also love to go on about legal resources and the use of both print (precedential value) and electronic sources in legal writings. And when it comes to citing print or electronic sources, print is more official in the legal world. But I don't want to be too long-winded. Will save that for another time.

  8. Thus says the expert, folks. :)