Category Archives: Tech

The Right Distance on Smart Phones

Smart phones connected with Wifi/3G make it easier than ever
to share photos onto the web. Just take it, and tap with the fingertip to
share.

However, some interaction designs are not as thoughtful as users expect
them to be…

For example, in this photo as below, the “delete” and “upload” buttons are placed next to each other.

If the finger tip is about the same size as this earphone plug, the possibility of making mistakes is very high. If the user tries to delete but taps the “upload” by mistake, the photo will be uploaded immediately onto the online album. If the user taps on “delete”, the conversation box shows to make sure. Obviously, it is much easier and faster to share than to delete.

Is “share” more important than “delete”? Out of 10 photos we take (especially of
ourselves), how many of them do we want to keep and share, and how many of them do we delete immediately?

When it comes to taking photos on smart phones, the function to “delete” is as important as “share”, if not more important. In other words, don’t let the users lose control over their gadgets.

A “smart phone” isn’t just easy – it is thoughtful.

What does Windows Live Space Migration Mean to Chinese Users?

Recently, many of the Windows Live Space blog users in China mainland are upset by the notice of migration to WordPress.

Around Sep.29th, the users received a notice saying “The deadline is March, 2011, but you should move to WordPress immediately. …From Jan. 2011, you will be unable to add new posts, and March will be the last chance for you to access your account information.”

Like a stone thrown into a peaceful lake, this news shocked many Chinese users. For many of them, the Windows Live Space has been an important part of their life for a long time.

One of my friends has kept her Space blog for over five years, which records her five years of life after graduation from university, including memories of her relationships, career, marriage, and the birth of her first child. It records her happiness, sorrows, and valuable moments of herself, her family, and her baby. More importantly, her blog is opened only to a group of friends, who share with her all these memories. Her blog receives an average of 50 comments for each new entry, and such interaction among the friends is what makes the Space a cozy and private place.

Now, she has to move. She is worried that errors might occur during the migration and cause data loss or privacy issues.

She is also thinking about which new place to go. WordPress, strong as it is, remains a strange name for many Chinese users.

On Oct.7, Windows Live Space sent to its users another notice, “To provide better service, we will cooperate with WordPress in most part of the world. However, in China mainland, we are looking for local service partners. Before formal notice is announced, you can still use Windows Live Space as usual. Thank you for the 6 years with us. We remain your loyal friend.”

During the week between the two notices, what was happening?

Some of the Chinese users have already moved, still others are waiting or hesitating. Some users complain that when they try to move to WordPress, some web pages can’t be opened. Some users say that when they try to move to Sina, it seems all the posts are been censored and those private entries become open to all. Some users showed their disappointment towards Windows Live Space by asking, “Does it mean that Space force us to move??”, and “Regret I chose it 6 years ago.”

Meanwhile, the local companies begin to compete for this huge market. In China, although QQ has a large market share, numerous working young people prefer MSN to QQ, and Windows Live Space to QQ blog. Why? It really depends, but some people feel MSN and QQ represent distinct user groups.

QQ may not be the most competitive candidate, but it is very proactive in this matter.

Early on Oct. 3rd, QQ announced its new tools that can help users move their blogs from Windows Live Space to QQ blog. If users search “Windows Live Space moving” in Chinese language on Google, QQ’s notice of solution appears first on the top.

It is said that Windows Live Space might choose Sina as its partner, but its PR department said it is not decided yet.

(I personally feel very sorry that Windows Live Space decides to close its service in China. It must be a tough decision for the company because it is giving up so many loyal users.)

Ideas 18-2 Storehouse Management in Fashion Stores

There are still many jobs that require a good memory. One of them is the sales assistant in fashion stores.

The storehouses in fashion stores are usually small, compact, and too crowded, as more space is allocated for the display area and fitting rooms. Therefore, it is often difficult to keep everything in good order and easy to find. Imagine a sales girl standing on a ladder or chair trying to find a pair of shoes for the customer waiting outside. It happens every day in a fashion/shoe store. In some stores, the newly recruited sales assistants are asked to sort out the storehouse for their first day, so that they can get familiar with where everything is and find it immediately for customers.

The situation is similar with the luggage deposit at hotels. I remember seeing an angry guest in a five star hotel. She needed her luggage to catch the plane, but the staff wasn’t able to find it for her immediately. The staff at hotels put labels on the luggage for identification, but in order to find the luggage very fast, they still need to memorize where the luggage had been put.

I think a good solution for the storehouse in fashion stores is using RFID tags with an information system. For the user end, I would prefer a RFID tag reader to identify the tags, together with a touch screen for the sales assistants to select the required goods fast and easily. The RFID tags should be able to make “beep” sounds to indicate their locations in the storehouse.

idea, by H.Z.

HP TouchSmart 600 PC

Your World at your fingertips!

A good friend was involved on this project, which makes me feel really proud.^_^

It seems to be designed for home use, but I’ve seen many exciting applications in fashion/shoes stores and companies!

Ideas 18-1 Cashier’s at Grocery Stores

“What kind of pepper is it?” The man at the cashier’s of a grocery store asked me. He had difficulty with the price.

In grocery stores, it seems the staff at the cashier’s has to memorize all the prices of different vegetables and fruits without package. They have to identify different kinds of peaches, tomatoes, peppers, etc.

How to make it easier?

Use labels that can be identified by computer systems:

  1. Paste such labels on each vegetable and fruit.
  2. Put such labels beside the vegetable and fruit so that customers can paste on the plastic bags by themselves.

Use charts/computer systems at the cashier’s:

  1. Place a chart with photos, names, and prices on the cashier’s desk, or a digital one in the computer.
  2. Use a camera to identify the vegetable or fruit. Then, the information is displayed in the computer for the cashier to choose or confirm.

I think, in the near future, identifying systems with cameras will be found in many supermarkets and grocery stores. There will also be computers with touch screen at the cashier’s. Maybe the customers can also order the grocery online in advance..we will see!

Name Matters (2) Kindle VS Bambook?

Kindle VS Bambook

(The front and back of Bambook, photos from http://www.flickr.com/photos/bfishadow/4860091778/)

Recently, Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited in China is said to launch its e-book BamBook at a final price of CNY 999 each. That’s about USD147. It is predicted that Shanda Corporation will make money through its content and services instead of hardwares, and Shanda’s advantage lies in its large quantities of network literary resources.

The name “Bambook” is also a smart idea — it’s a combination of Bamboo and book. Bamboo pieces were commonly used as materials for writing in ancient China, and thus are regarded as the ancestors of modern books.

(the bamboo book, photo from http://res.bigc.edu.cn/gudaiyinshuaziyuanku )

The Chinese name of Bambook is “Jin shu”. Like Baidu, this name also has its origin in a very famous poem from a well-kown female poet in ancient China. “Jin shu” has two meanings, “a love letter from a wife to her husband”, and “gorgeous books”. The name Bambook is easily accepted and liked by Chinese critics and netizens because it sounds beautiful and caters to the people’s love for poetry.

Will Kindle be given a Chinese name, too? If so, what would that name be? We will wait and we will see, and I hope that the name could be as enlightening as “Kindle”.

The pictures below show that the package of Bambook is also decorated with bamboos, one of the most important symbols of Asian culture.

(The package of bambook, photos from http://www.flickr.com/photos/bfishadow/4860091778/ )

Name Matters (1) Google VS Baidu

Google VS Baidu

(logo picture from http://stockweb.blogspot.com/2008/09/google-vs-baidu.html )

Baidu is a major competitor of Google in China. When Google announced its decision to redirect all search queries from Google.cn in mainland China to Google.com.hk in HongKong, many critics said that this was a result of Google’s decreasing share in China’s search engine market.

(chart from http://blog.monty.de )

What does the name Baidu mean? It is explained in Wikipedia as below,

The name “Baidu” is a quote from the last line of Xin Qiji’s classical poem “Green Jade Table in the Lantern Festival” saying: “Having searched for him hundreds and thousands of times in the crowd, suddenly turning back by chance, I find him there in the dimmest candlelight.”

The context of the poem is that in ancient China, girls had to stay indoors and the Lantern Festival was one of the few times they could come out. In the sea and chaos of lantern lights, they would sneak away to meet their love and exchange promises to meet again next year.

A summary of the entire poem: Flowers bursting into bloom in the sky, stars falling like rain (fireworks/meteor shower), Whole streets filled with perfume, jeweled horses pulling ornate carriages, fish and dragon lanterns dancing throughout the entire night. A body decorated with golden thread and butterfly trinket, laughter that has a subtle fragrance. Having searched for this person until exhaustion, when suddenly turning back by chance, I find him standing lonely in the far end of the street in the waning light.

Robin Li, the founder of Baidu, has his own understanding of this name.

“ Many people have asked about the meaning of our name. ‘Baidu’ was inspired by a poem written more than 800 years ago during the Song Dynasty. The poem compares the search for a retreating beauty amid chaotic glamour with the search for one’s dream while confronted by life’s many obstacles. ‘…hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos, suddenly, I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, and there she stood.’ Baidu, whose literal meaning is hundreds of times, represents persistent search for the ideal.

—— Robin Li, founder of Baidu

As a name of internet search engine, the word Baidu is both apposite and poetic. The poem itself is very famous and has been quoted thousands of times by modern scholars and writers. It is also taught in the Chinese classes of high schools in most provinces of China. Such a name easily evokes joyful pride in Chinese people’s hearts, and thus, it is not surprising to see some people wrote online, “If you are a Chinese, you should use Baidu instead of Google”.

In contrast, Google entered China with a relatively more vague name. Before it was given a Chinese name, many Chinese netizens call it “go-go”, which is similar to the Chinese word “gou gou”( a pet name for dogs). Then, in April, 2006, Google announced its Chinese name “Gu Ge”, which literally means “grain song”, and is said to indicate the happiness of good harvest. Although this name was said to be agreed within Google’s office in Beijing, it received little applause from Chinese netizens. It is reported that in less than one week, after the name was announced to public, over 10,000 netizens voted in an online survey and showed their discontents with the new name. The Chinese name “Gu Ge” was criticized for being “too strange and awkward”. People just don’t like this name.