May 30, 2010
Someone sent me some screenshots that look like Google is trying out a new feature that allows users to customize their homepage background image. (Sites like Bing or Google often try features out with a % of their users before releasing them into general use. Because these trials are somewhat random, it's hard to force it to happen. As a result, I haven't actually seen these features in action and can't categorically state that these are real images, but the source is credible.)
Here you can see the "Change background image" link they added in the bottom-left corner. (n.b. I added the bigger version to make it easier to read.)
If you click the link, you get this dialog box asking if you want to upload from your computer, from Picasa Web, or a public gallery.
Here's what you see if you click "Public Gallery".
Here's the Google homepage with a custom background image. You can see the "Remove background image" link in the bottom-left.
Maybe I'm biased because I work on Bing for Microsoft, but I think this looks like a bad copy of our custom homepage images. While I'm sure some users would like to upload their own photos to be the background, I think the best part of the Bing homepage is getting a lovely surprise everyday with interesting questions and links about the image. I wonder if Google is a getting a little spooked by Bing; they seem to copying a lot of our features lately.
May 23, 2010
I played golf yesterday with a bunch of my teammates. Since we didn't have two full foursomes, two of us were paired with some other Chinese golfers. They were nice enough and soon we got into the typical "where are you from, what do you do" banter. As soon as I said I was American, one guy looked at me and immediately replied, "You look like an American." My buddy Tim asked, "What does that mean?" The other guy replied, "You have skinny legs and a big belly."
My big belly and I went on to kick his skinny butt in golf.
May 22, 2010
Here's a nice infographic of the sixty Chinese cities with populations in excess of 1M. By comparison, Wikipedia states that the Seattle metro area is around 4M with 600,000 in the city. It really sets the massive population of China in perspective when cities most Americans have never heard of (even people who have been to China) are bigger than places like Munich or Amsterdam.
May 16, 2010
I noticed a bunch of signs like this lately saying "Zuojiazhuang". The first word "zuo" is my family name ("Chor" was transliterated from Cantonese; the Mandarin pronunciation is "zuo".) The phrase "Zuojianzhuang" means "Chor Family Village". It turns out there's a section in northeast Beijing, between the Second and Third Ring Roads (just north of Sanlitun, if you know Beijing) that is called Zuojiazhuang. My driver thinks there must have been a rich family named Zuo that used to live there a long time ago. I'll have to see what else I can learn about this.
You can see the location here in Chinese Bing maps.
May 11, 2010
I've commented before about the differences between Andrew (12) and Michael (9) but this was highlighted very clearly again last night at dinner.
I was talking with Michelle about a problem I was having at work about someone not doing their job well.
The kids were definitely playing true to form. Andrew is much kinder with his good "carrot" style leadership. Michael, not unexpectedly, is all stick.
Weird how different two brothers can be. Note to future employees -- watch out if Michael is your manager.
May 8, 2010
We have these lovely blossoms growing in front of my team's building in Beijing (it's called the Sigma Building). Nice that nature found a way to brighten up normally dreary Beijing.
May 3, 2010
Chinese people in China (vs. overseas Chinese) seem to have a love affair with wearing pajamas in public, despite government pressure to stop. Someone once explained to me that only richer people can afford pajamas, so they're kind of a sign of affluence. Anyway, I saw this guy today playing badminton in a hutong (old alley neighborhoods) in his pajamas. Maybe his neighbors think he's cool, but I think he looks silly.
I've regularly seen covers like this protecting wheels on parked cars in Beijing, but I've never known what they were for.
Today, my friend Stacy pointed out to me that they're to keep dogs from peeing on the wheels! Sure enough, a high percentage of uncovered wheels looked like this on the street we were on today. Who lets their dog pee on cars? Gross.
Saw this restaurant sign today in a hutong (traditional alley/neighborhood) in Beijing. I don't think they really serve dog (as a meal), but the sign is a bit confusing. The Chinese words don't shed any additional clues (it just says "Small Love").
One of these things is not like the others...