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December 14, 2004 05:40 AM Information Retrieval  |   Link
I wonder how many searches are really academic?

Google announced today that they are working with a few university libraries to digitize books that are already in the public domain. What I'm wondering though is if the frequency of searches are really of this type of material. Is this really the part of the "deep web" that searchers really want? I'm not in academia anymore but I know most of my searches (when I do search) are really around ecommerce or product reviews/comparisons. So does this really enhance the relevancy of search? I will have to give it a try but I would love to hear from librarians out there if it really helps.

Travel  |   Link
Abbrev and Acronyms in HK

Ok, I thought Stanford was really bad with all their acronyms for frequently used words: Mem Chu, fro yo, foam, eanab...

Well here's a short list:
TST - Tsim Sha Tui, a district in Kowloon
DB - Discovery Bay, expat commune, oops I mean expat community on Lantau Island soon to be next to Disney Hong Kong in 2005-6
DPD - dai pai dong (food vendor stalls, that are illegal and probably will give you a bad tummy ache)
KCR - Kowloon-Canton Railways, gets you to the China border and New Territories
MTR - Mass Transit Railway, subway system
LKF - Lai Kwai Fong, party central of SOHO
SOHO - South of Hollywood Rd in the Mid-Levels district

There are more, just can't remember them off the top of my head. I'll probably add more just to archive :)

December 13, 2004 05:34 AM Whine  |   Link
Holding myself accountable

Ok, I'm officially writing this here(even though I know I could easily delete this entry at a future date). Over the next few months I will write about my month off in Napa Valley last May. The time off was originally called A Life Review Retreat (a reference to Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life) but I think this time I'm calling it _30 Days after Turning 30: Finding Myself in Time_ Sounds a bit cheesy I know. The title will more than likely change but I have to start somewhere. I have endless pages of notes and thoughts from that time off but now it's a matter of structuring it into a story that most people can relate to and perhaps become a testimonial of how Jesus has changed my life in the last year. If you know me, you probably understand where I'm coming from with the title.

Travel  |   Link
You know you're a local when...

Hong Kong Island isn't that big. In fact, most of the island is uninhabited because of preserved natural lands. However, there are about 8-10 million people on HK Island. Dense living conditions in many high rise buildings allows for that many people to live here. But the oddest thing is you do bump into people you know randomly in and around places you tend to hang out. For instance, I've bumped into one of my former classmates from chinese school two times now (once at our gym and the other night at the escalators in SOHO) and just today we saw a friend from church in the Hong Kong MTR Station. I remember a few weeks back we saw Jeff's cousin crossing the street towards us. Who knows we'll probably bump into more people we know more often. While there are days I just feel like any other anonymous person walking to my destination, it's quite nice to bump into folks I know and feel part of the whole eco-system of friendly faces.

December 12, 2004 07:06 AM Whine  |   Link
Jeff a Librarian?

I know this sounds pretty odd, but the guy really knows how to do research online. For me I have to admit I hate doing online searching, surfing, or shopping. Even though it was my profession to care about search online it really doesn't appeal to me for personal aspects. It was pretty funny that Jeff would relate his story of doing research for homeopathic remedies for allergies for a few hours this afternoon. He's pretty good at searching for these things and especially electronic gadgets. Not only does he find the reviews of these products, he finds coupons randomly online. He's like the ultimate online junkie. I bet he would make a better reference librarian than me. I may know where the answers are in a book, but he would definitely find the answer online really quick.

Speaking of online shopping. It's pretty rare here to find ecommerce sites. Living in the middle of shopping mecca folks here really like to touch, feel, and play with the things they want to buy. Jeff has been trying to find something like an online Amazon equivalent here but no luck. The only places where ecommerce sites come in handy are for folks who don't live closeby to CWB or TST/Mongkok.

Speaking of shopping mecca...today being Sunday...was a total chaotic zoo in and around our area. Not only is it the "amahs" day off but there was a product and brands expo at Victoria Park. It will be going on through Jan 3. This expo has been going on every year for 39 years now. So I have this strange feeling life around our neighborhood will be quite hectic.

Travel  |   Link
Bookstore Apartment

I never noticed until the other day that one of our elevators is actually the service elevator to the bookstore next door. I thought it was already cool that I was next door to a bookstore and stationary store. How cool is it or what? Instant gratification to all the books I like :) And then to see the service entrance off one of the floors of the elevator I rode in. Ok I know my librarian friends out there would appreciate that! I just couldn't help but share.

December 10, 2004 07:06 AM Information Architecture  |   Link
Are there IAs Around Here?

One of the questions I battled with when moving out here to HK was whether or not I would pursue my IA career here. Apparently there's already a great usability community here led by Apogee. UPA HK and UPA China are conducting a weekend series of workshops on usability next weekend in China.

User Friendly 2004

Sounds like it's going to be a great conference with over 150 attendees expected. I unfortunately will not be able to attend but will look forward to any future UPA HK meetings.

If you're an IA here in HK, drop me a line. I would be happy to jumpstart an IA cocktail hour here. I'll probably ping the Yahoo folks I met a couple months ago as well. From the look of things, sounds like IA here is where it was 5 years ago in the US. I smell great opportunities here.

December 09, 2004 06:09 AM Whine  |   Link
Ironic Tanning

Ok this has got to be the funniest thing here. Remember I wrote about how the locals love to use products with skin whitening? Well I completely forgot that our gym has a tanning booth and recently the spa just added tan in a can services to their list of offerings. I have never seen the booth used and our trainers at the gym just got a free tiral of the tan in the can service. I was kind of grinning when I saw my trainer after he got his done. I doubt this is going to be something the locals will be lining up for even if it is the first place in HK offering the service. It's just so contrary to the whole skin care regimen of "whitening" your skin. Now does the gym really know their target audience? Perhaps the gym's market are all the expats living here...but it's kind of a small population and not all of them have the kind of money to maintain that type of service. I'll be curious to see how many folks emerge from the spa with that special kind of "glow." I think for most Asians these things just turn you orange.

Travel  |   Link
Shopping Bags Everywhere

It's definitely obvious when you come here that everything you see is disposable. From the fashion to moon cakes packaging, everything finds its way into the trash bin; or in most people's cases, the back of the cupboard.

One aspect of HK culture that I find fascinating is the reuse of shopping bags. Everywhere you go you get a shopping bag, my collection fills a whole cupboard in the kitchen. Mind you it's not the typical plastic bags you get from the grocery store, it's all the different sized bags you get from the department store, the Sony store, Aveda store, and all the variety of stores you can shop at here in CWB. What I find myself doing these days instead of using my backpack or my recent y purchased bag from Shenzhen is reusing these shopping bags. I'm not alone. You go on the MTR, the tram, or the bus and you see many people reusing their various bags. In some way it almost gives you a glimpse of people's buying habits here...or at least the types of stores they frequent. There are days where I wonder what was the original item purchased to get this or that type of bag. I start to daydream about a tai tai's fancy shopping spree at the local Lane Crawford or the high school student's trek to the CWB Plaza for the latest in this winter's fashion accessory using what would have been one week's worth of lunch money.

The most seen bag near my neighborhood has to be the large Sogo bags. These days I use one of my Aveda bags. It's practical and keeps me looking local. I usually walk around with a travel bag with my gym clothes and now I'm thinking I should just reuse one of the other shopping bags. I guess I'm not ready to give in fully yet.

The only thing frustrating about these bags is that their lifespan is not long especially if it gets wet. So on dry days I use the paper bags and probably on the rainy days I'll use the mound of plastic bags I have from the grocery store. Also if you overstuff the bags, the handles break or they tear easily. I recall one time seeing someone on the street just put two bags together just to reinforce its carrying potential. I guess it didn't take too long for me to pick up another local habit.

Speaking of packaging and bags. I can't wait to share my Ikea handles collection. Since not too many people have cars here the Ikea here has a bagging/packing your packages area after you pay for your items. Here you can tie up your goods, wrap the glassware in paper, and put these handles on large items that are difficult to hold or put them in large bags. With our treks to Ikea, we've amassed quite a collection of handles.

December 04, 2004 06:16 AM Travel  |   Link
A little more about Causeway Bay

Found this interesting site that describes a little bit of what you can do and see in Causeway Bay.

Travel  |   Link
Nobody dines alone in Hong Kong

One of the most interesting aspects of HK dining is the fact that you rarely dine alone. There's no such thing as personal space. (You get a good understanding of this when you take the public transportation or elevators) So in most of the casual restaurants or soup/noodle shops you can be at a table for 6 with 2 other couples or be at a table for 2 dining with another solo diner. It's not unusual and there are no expectations to talk to this other person. It works out for the restaurant and for the solo diner; fill the seats quickly and no dining alone. This can be disconcerting for most but it kind of gets interesting. For one, you can see what others are ordering and just tell the waitress you want the same thing.

However there was one time Jeff and I were eating at our favorite noodle shop on a large table. We were happily seated and ordered our meal. While we were waiting at least 3 sets of couples came and went from our table. I guess some folks don't like to share but we were content and we took no offense. But it was kind of funny that in the 30 minutes we were there that the others didn't sit across from us for too long before spotting a free table for 2. We ate in silence the whole time but grinned that nobody wanted to be with us.

December 02, 2004 06:21 AM Travel  |   Link
The Chan Hong Kong Tours Ltd

We love it when we play tour guide. It gets us out of day to day routine. Forutnately for us we got to play host for a friend of a friend. Starting off with a nice lunch of dim sum at Jade Garden where we had all the classic dim sum from shrimp dumplings to pork buns.

Jeff was able to go to Victoria Peak which funny enough he had not seen in a couple of years. I was actually at the Peak playing tour guide a couple months ago. This time we added an open top double decker bus through Central and a Star Ferry ride to Kowloon. We then headed to Harbor City of noodle soup and scallion bread. To top it off we went to Temple Street Night Market where our new friend Andrea had a blast bargaining with one of the vendors.

Perhaps we should start our own tour guide business of the city?

Photos of our Grand Day Out with Andrea.