Archive | February, 2012

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SoTD #114: All Things Must Pass

George Harrison – All Things Must Pass

Apparently this song wasn’t good enough to make the cut on Let It Be, so it was the title track on George Harrison’s three-part album with the same title. Definitely a highlight of George Harrison’s solo career. Really reminds me of Beck’s Sea Change which is a favorite acoustic album of mine.

Published on February 23, 2012

Three Quick Book Reviews

Three quick reviews of books I’ve read in the last month.

#1: I Moved Your Cheese

I Moved Your CheeseWritten by a Harvard MBA professor, I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else’s Maze┬áis a short story about three mice that live inside of a maze. As they begin to identify the maze, one of them opens his mind and makes important realizations about the world that they live in. Having gained this newfound consciousness, he stages an escape.

One of the greatest things about this book is the impact that it has in such a small space (it’s about 100 pages long). Before you’ve finished the first page, it’s clear that the mouse in a maze example draws a beautiful parallel between the mental state that we place ourselves within. In order to break free of the restrictive bonds which our own minds socialize us into (the maze), you must step back and re-examine.

“The problem is not that the mouse is in the maze, but that the maze is in the mouse.”

Incredibly deep and meaningful book, I highly recommend it to anyone: I Moved Your Cheese

#2: Why China Will Never Rule the World

Why China Will Never Rule the WorldThe title of this book was enough to arouse my attention, but after seeing this brazen Youtube clip of the author speaking about the book, I was hooked.

The book follows author Troy Parfitt on a journey across Mainland China and Taiwan as he makes hundreds of observations and China and it’s people, peppered with historical anecdotes. For me this format works great since you go into this book expecting it to be a dry assortment of facts and figures, as opposed to a first-person account of the China experience. The author has spent a decade in and around China, speaks Chinese, and is knowledgeable on its past. For me, this certifies his right to express an opinion on China, even if it is negative.

Throughout the entire book, the author is critical of China and it’s various systems which are opposed to the Western way of doing things. Dozens of times while reading the book I silently applauded his observations, having made so many of the same ones myself. All expats in China go through the China Blues and if you’re going through that, this book is like therapy. It’s a hand on your shoulder that says, I can relate.

Moreover, I agree with the books conclusion that China will not rule the world. Perhaps this is a foregone conclusion but at the moment it’s difficult to get away from the popular sentiment that China is asserting itself in all the ways that the United States is faltering. This book is worth reading, but due to it’s negativity, more as accompanying material rather than a main source for information on China: Why China Will Never Rule the World

“There is nothing more childish, and to that end, more telling, about Chinese culture than the concept of face; it is merely a license for people to behave however they please.”

#3: Black Passenger in Yellow Cabs

Black Passenger in Yellow CabsThis book is the story of a Jamaican American who emigrated to Japan as an English teacher and spent seven years purging sexual demons. Addicted to sex and eager to learn about Japanese women to better manipulate them, the author learned Japanese while exploiting the exoticism attached to his race in Japan.

Despite continually referring to his slum origin in Jamaica, the author of this book is clearly highly educated and motivated to meticulously study the psychological details of Japanese women. Which makes this book essentially half diary (this girl, this experience) and psychology (Japanese rituals and society).

The diary part gets old since it feels that the same themes are re-used over and over, but the societal observations are fascinating and can only come from intimate relationships. Overall my feelings toward this book are bittersweet since it contains a lot of great anecdotes, but somewhere around the 200 page point I was looking forward to the conclusion.

“Ravaged by inferiority complexes, the Japanese depend on the validation of whites when marketing their products, especially big ticket items associated with status and class. It’s just not a cool car unless the ads feature a European at the wheel.”

Recommended if you have particular interest in the psychology of Japanese women or society in general: Black Passenger in Yellow Cabs

Published on February 21, 2012

Maxing Out Dropbox: 22gb for Free

I just upgraded my Dropbox account to 22gb for free! There were a few steps involved but here’s what I did.

The last few months I’ve become more and more of a regular user of Dropbox – moving essentially all of my important files into folders which are automatically synced with the cloud. Although I have two computers which I switch between regularly (a desktop PC and a Macbook Pro), the main benefit of this system for me is having everything constantly backed-up and accessible from any location via web browser.

Upgrading Your Dropbox Disk Space

The only issue for me was the 2gb initial limitation (which can be upgraded to 50gb for an annual fee of $99). However, there is a way around this which I discovered via this Lifehacker post on the subject. It involves using Google Adwords credit to create referral links to Dropbox, hence maxing out the referral bonus that Dropbox offers. Since I had just received a $100 credit for Google Adwords, I used that and ended up using $48 of that credit to get 300+ clicks which maxed out my Dropbox referrals.

Google Adwords & Account Suspension

Upon creating my first Adwords campaign, my account was suspended within a day. The message that I received was automated and didn’t tell me what rules I had violated. Here’s the exact email that I received:

Google Adwords Suspended Account

This was concerning because I figured that it would be difficult to get the help of a human to remove the suspension of my account. After getting suspended, I googled this and found that other people who ran the same Dropbox campaign had their accounts suspended and the appeals process was fruitless for them, resulting in a permanently disabled Adwords account (which is automatically tied to your Google account since Adwords is a Google product).

I got really lucky. I sent an email and got a friendly reply within one day that my account had been restored and that my ad was running.

Adwords & Dropbox Referral Data

The idea with the Adwords campaign is this: keep your ad running as long as it takes to maximize your Dropbox referrals and then shut it off. Once you get to that point you’re finished, and you can enjoy your 20gb+ of free space on Dropbox forever. Here’s what it took to get me to that point:

Adwords Data

Adwords data showing number of clicks, impressions, and cost per click (CPC). Click for larger.

As you can see above, I “paid” an average of $0.13 per click, of which there were 365, to get 30+ referrals in Dropbox. Totally worth it and interesting to see the whole process take place. Here’s what the referrals in Dropbox looked like (this is one of several pages):

Dropbox referrals

List of Dropbox referrals. Click for larger.

Conclusion: Worth It

Although there was a potentially major hiccup when my Adwords account was suspended, I overcame that hurdle and it was totally worth it. And if you do what I did, I’m sure that you can max your Dropbox account out as well and get the maximum of 20gb+ of free online storage space. Of course with Dropbox, the key is that this data is automatically synced with the cloud and your other computers.

Although I have nothing else to gain by referring you to the service (ha ha), Dropbox is fantastic and I highly recommend it!

Published on February 19, 2012

Chengdu: Mind, Body, Spirit

Sascha spent 6 weeks on the production team that shot and assembled these videos telling the story of Chengdu. They are awesome! Watch them.

Mind

Body

Spirit

Published on February 13, 2012
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Office Front Desk

We have a new front desk person this week who’s brought great enthusiasm with her. Everyday I walk in my office to signs like this.

Published on February 10, 2012