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  • John Erik 12:42 am on July 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    A (illegitimate) strategy for Groupon clones 

    Is slowing down? Or do Hongkongers just not care for Italian food? Their current (at the time of this writing) deal has been up more than half the day already and has only sold 35 coupons — low considering their first several daily deals were consistently around 200, with one from AMC Threatre selling 1500.

    Something else different with this deal is the deal timer, which currently reads 60 hours remaining. Is this a three day deal? This multi-day or week long strategy is what other sites like (which I learned of bc they tweeted me after my last post) and are doing to make up for having a smaller audience. But I’ve heard of another strategy.

    When I was in Shanghai a couple months ago for the World Expo I met the founders of another Groupon clone, With them there was some joking about these clone sites just buying all the coupons themselves and giving them away to their large extended families and friends. There was also some suggesting that other mainland knockoffs were absolutely using this strategy, especially at first.

    For all these sites, the real Groupon included, you can’t NOT sell all the coupons. The base number doesn’t function as a real minimum anymore, it just has to be set high enough to encourage early, excited deal seekers to send it to a couple of friends. And, what it’s really about, especially when you’re a clone site hoping to stand out from the other 200 on the block and be purchased for hundreds of millions, is showing off how far ABOVE the minimum you’re selling.

    As the plan goes, once you get some press for that, then hopefully the bandwagon effect will have worked and you can slowly phase to over to all genuine buys.

    I’m not saying is doing this, I think the fact they now have over 40,000 Facebook fans is proof they are legit. Nevertheless, seeing their numbers drop a little bit, and now the extended time makes me think perhaps something is up. Their Taiwan site is also showing 60 hours remaining on it’s current deal.

    Anyhow. It’s raining in Seoul.

    • Danny Yeung 12:02 am on July 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi John,

      Great blog you have going on here. This is Danny Yeung with I like to give you a reply to your post. In regards to us slowing down, certainly there has been some days in which the numbers are not where we would like it as in reality, we are all going through a testing phase of what type of deals work in Hong Kong and in Taiwan. What we have seen work for sites in the USA may not work for the Asia Market and vice versa. Ultimately, it depends on what the actual “deal” is which is no big secret. If the deal is good enough and the merchant is well known, people are going to buy.

      You mentioned the Italian deal which was ran on a Friday (ended up selling 168), our Friday deals run through the weekend, same concept as for all the big sites in the USA, groupon included. The reason for this is because most of the people which visit our site do so from work and the traffic to our site drastically decreases on the weekend and I’m sure this is the same case for any other market.

      I’m certain in the coming months you will still see big variations in terms of number of vouchers sold per day, such as today in which we sold out 500 Yoshinoya vouchers by lunch time. In regards to legitimacy, we are definitely legitimate as evidenced by our 45,000 fans in HK and 27,000 fans in Taiwan. We want to continue to give our fans the best deals every day which at the end of the day will create a win-win situation for all involved.

      Thank you


      Danny Yeung

      • Sing_Sing 11:59 am on August 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        45,000 fans but no one buying… I wonder why? Perhaps Danny have spend millions of $$$ building up a fanbase of “cheap jing”…. $25 Yoshinoya bowl, $10 bubble tea, $5 pork floss. Not people I would want in my shop!

      • John Erik 11:00 pm on August 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Hey Danny,

        Thanks for your comment here. I’ve been meaning to reply.

        You guys are doing well. Almost 100k Facebook fans now and consistently selling deals. It’s interesting which ones sell 1000 and which sell just around 100. It seems to be related to price, but not entirely and obviously some have a cap.

        After hearing so many people in mainland talk about how to rig the system, I really was curious about the strategy. The longer deals on Friday is what got me.

        I keep hearing about more competitors, but I don’t see you guys slowing down. Hope it keeps going well. The reason I was so interested and keeping track of the ones in HK is because a friend and I were looking at getting a group buying site together ourselves specifically targeting the gwai lo population.

  • John Erik 10:37 pm on July 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Groupon clones in Hong Kong 

    uBuyiBuy is doing very well. We can look at their Recent Buys page and determine their revenue thus far.

    By looking at sales from the first 9 days since they launched — at that time they had ~20,000 Facebook fans — they’ve sold HKD$299,280 worth of coupons. I believe they take a 20% cut of everything. Not sure how quickly they pay their advertisers, could be Net 30, could be instant. Most coupons save the customer ~50%, e.g. spend 50, get 100. There are also credit card processing fees.

    So of that HKD$299,280, 20% is HKD$59,865 or approximately HKD$6651 (~1k USD) per day thus far. Multiplying than times twelve is around HKD$1.7M (~200k USD). I imagine they will likely break into different districts as awareness grows — kowloon, island side, etc. — to try and offer more than one deal per day. Probably good potential to do USD$500k this year just in Hong Kong. They also have Taiwan and Singapore. Taiwan seems to be performing similarly and Singapore is yet to launch.

    I can’t tell what their web traffic is since they’ve only been online about a month.

    They have been gaining Facebook fans at the rate of 1000 or more per day, which is very impressive. They have nearly 39,000 now — most all of which look to be local, Chinese, Hongkongers, maybe 25 and under (I’m just looking at faces), perhaps the same fan base who listens to MC Jin and Van Ness Wu, their pop-ambassadors. I would suspect these guys are actively telling their fans to go “Like” the Facebook group. Their Facebook page for their Tapai site has 27,000 fans.

    The other HK group buying site that I’ve been seeing is Twangoo. It’s up and running, but not with the kind of popularity uBuyiBuy has. They’re offering their second deal this week (they do things by the week) and 7 people have bought in so far, at least the met the deal minimum of 5.

    Twangoo has 330 Facebook fans. They mostly look to be Chinese, but with a few more expats mixed in and still all young. Their posts are in English verus uBuyiBuy who posts almost exclusively in Chinese.

    With all this said, who is going to win overall in HK? Seems like uBuyiBuy is on it’s way. Thought I’m curious to know their penetration in the expat market. Here’s an interview with ubuyibuy founder on Bloomberg: He says he was living in the US running a business, used Groupon himself, got a ton of business from it, and decided to head back to Asia to get it started there. We’ll see if he also ends up selling to Groupon. CityDeals from Germany sold for a reported 200M Euro. There are reportedly hundreds of Groupon clones in mainland China.

    Is group buying a trend that is going to last forever, one that will become engrained in our buying habits?

    • Angus L. 10:53 pm on July 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply is another site. Think they are out of HKSTP.

    • soylette 2:39 pm on October 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi i came across your post and would like to share with you that there are other similar webs in HK:

      • (in english and chinese),
      • (in Chinese)
      • (in chinese)

      I think Ubuyibuy has the most traffic coming through. Other webs have some innovative sales idea, such as color contact lenses, tea bags… it isn’t just providing services at discounted price, but also promoting products at great value.

      • John Erik 5:06 am on October 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Hey there, thanks so much for letting me know about these other sites!

    • Herta Cornilia 5:13 am on March 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      of course we can find some great deals in Twangoo but what I wanna focus is about the strategy of Twangoo compared to others. High end but, as you said, fairly priced…

    • Jonathan 2:24 pm on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hi John,
      I’m about to bring an event back to Hong Kong, this will be our 5th time over the last 7 years. This time we are looking into using a group buying site to promote it and also sell some early bird tickets. Which group buying sites will you recommend that are popular with the english speaking population?
      The tickets will be bigger ticket items also, around US $200 for the early birds.
      Thanks for your input.

  • John Erik 12:39 pm on November 25, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Twitter updates, hackathons, YCombinator 

    My last post got me thinking about passively digesting information and how that concept can abstracts all the way out to hackers and creating great products.

    Passively digesting information can be exhausting. While I’ve recently got back into Twitter and Facebook, it was nice to unplug for a month or so.

    That said, there are several downsides to *not* staying connected. For instance I went to this TEDxBeijing event and the whole time I was thinking, “what the hell did I used to talk to people about at things like this.” It really takes practice and being in the social media “flow” (for me at least) to feel like I have fluffy new, current and cool, stuff to talk about.

    Another downside. I’ve totally missed out on my friend’s lives recently. I really don’t know what is going on with them. Or, at least not to the level I did before. danah’s talk referenced how your friends can turn into celebrities. You watch (or receive via Twitter) their every move, you wait to hear about how that meeting s/he was stressed about went. Or, if someone’s mother liked that gift they got for her at Wal-Mart. Silly little things like that. People are always surprised that I’ve never seen 24 or MadMen or even Friends, really. That the only TV show I’ve ever watched (almost) all the way through is Battlestar Galactica (thanks to Melissa). Well, who needs all this when I have the lives of my friends to consume and laugh about.

    Back when I used to talk about things other than Chinese. Back when I had to evangelize Twitter because no one had never heard of it. I would say that Twitter helps me passively digest the life’s of those I care about.

    This is actually very powerful. And still very true, if you use Twitter as I did.

    The value occurs in the real world. Face to face. Being “peripherally aware,” as danah calls it, allows for conversations to start at a higher level. Between people and about topics.

    There is a vocabulary that is formed. There are black boxes. There is the ability to say one word or phrase and evoke in another person a whole set of feelings, memories, or information. This is the kind of stuff I love.

    Minimized backstory. Everyone has less and less time in their day. What do I want from the 30 minutes I get to talk to my friend or loved one per day? I want to talk about something of value, something that I can help with, something that can bring us closer, that we can share. And generally it takes a while to get there. So, I tweet. And I ask my mom to tweet, and my uncle, and my cousins who are off in college, and my college best friend who I want to keep up with because I love that guy. I get these people’s updates to my phone and then when we do have time to chat we can start at a higher level. She/he can reference a meeting, a day when X happened, etc., and I get it. It helps put things in context and it helps accelerate the conversation to one of feelings and emotion (hopefully).

    For news or events it’s the same thing. There is a shared vocabulary. Saying one thing like “the situation in China today” gets you on topic because you heard a bit about this already.

    For me, there is a macro level to this as well, which I think I fell in love with while taking computer science classes. It’s the black box concept again. Or, the shared vocabulary. The more we can compartmentalize and thus abstract away from a concept, or a thought or a process, the sooner we can move up in scope, up in our thought process, up in what we can envision. And thus create.

    I believe when you can do this with multiple people, when you add more processors, you again accelerate your ability to jump scope. This is why computer programmers often code all night or for five days straight or for three months in YCombinator. They don’t want to lose the high-level they are, in that moment, capable of processing at. And this this this is where the greatest things happen. This is what my friend Andrew wanted so badly to recreate with a “startup house.” This is flow.

    And I miss it.

    • Damon Clinkscales 4:03 pm on November 25, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hey John! Good to hear from you.

      This post is reminding me about your coworking in China (88spaces?) and it makes me wonder how it’s going. When I do hear you talk, it’s usually about travel, Melissa, or Chinese…are you still attempting to create a coworking space and community there where you are? please forgive me if *I’ve* just missed it in the massive stream that is flowing my way these days.

      Happy Thanksgiving. :)

      • John Erik 12:17 am on December 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Hey Damon!

        You are totally right, all I talk about now is learning Chinese and, yeah, @Melissa. heh.

        88 Spaces is up and running ( Due completely to the efforts of Markus and Lucas, the guys living in Shanghai.

        The plan was that I would study here in Beijing for a couple months. Then, Melissa and I would move to Shanghai after the new year. However, after studying Chinese for 2 months, I realize I’m going to need a bit more practice and Beijing is the best place to do that. And, it’s looking like Mel’s job is not ready to let her head up to SH. Sooo, we’ll see.

        As far as creating stuff. I miss it. I miss being behind something I believe in and helping bring it into existence.

  • John Erik 11:08 am on November 25, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Some excerpts from danah boyd. Information flow. 

    Our bodies are programmed to consume fat and sugars because they’re rare in nature. Thus, when they come around, we should grab them. In the same way, were biologically programmed to be attentive to things that stimulate: content that is gross, violent, or sexual and that gossip which is humiliating, embarrassing, or offensive. If were not careful, were going to develop the psychological equivalent of obesity. Well find ourselves consuming content that is least beneficial for ourselves or society as a whole.

    In a world of networked media, it’s easy to not get access to views from people who think from a different perspective. Information can and does flow in ways that create and reinforce social divides. Democratic philosophy depends on shared informational structures, but the combination of self-segmentation and networked information flow means that we lose the common rhetorical ground through which we can converse.

    We give power to people when we give them our attention and people gain power when they bridge between different worlds and determine what information can and will flow across the network.

    To be relevant today requires understanding context, popularity, and reputation.

    Making content work in a networked era is going to be about living in the streams, consuming and producing alongside “customers.” Consuming to understand, producing to be relevant.

    …the tools that consumers need are those that allow them to get into flow, that allow them to live inside information structures wherever they are, whatever they’re doing. The tools that allow them to easily grab what they need and stay peripherally aware without feeling overwhelmed.

    via “Streams of Content, Limited Attention: The Flow of Information through Social Media”Citation: boyd, danah. 2009. “Streams of Content, Limited Attention: The Flow of Information through Social Media.” Web2.0 Expo. New York, NY: November 17.

    I highly suggest reading danah’s entire talk. Something I didn’t paste because it would have been a bit long, was her reference to (one of my favorite guys) Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow” and how “Those who are most enamored with services like Twitter talk passionately about feeling as though they are living and breathing with the world around them, peripherally aware and in-tune, adding content to the stream and grabbing it when appropriate.” When explaining this feeling to others I’ve often used the phrase “passively digesting.” Passively digesting and therefore keeping up the things you care about.

    Those danah describe live in a world where 140 character updates from close friends, possibly family, maybe bits of news and a celebrity or two are delivered to our phones, via SMS, as they happen. I can see the flow metaphor for sure.

    That said, danah’s talk reinforces that “Prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, and power are all baked into our networks. In a world of networked media, it’s easy to not get access to views from people who think from a different perspective. Information can and does flow in ways that create and reinforce social divides.”

    Here’s another one to think about.

    “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

  • John Erik 12:19 pm on November 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Pretty sure my iPhone is a goner.

    I have 16 days left on my original one year hardware warranty from Apple, but since that’s only valid in the America (*fail*) I guess what I’m going to do is buy AppleCare to extend my warranty… and take the dumb thing to the Apple Store in Austin when I get to town.

    This is basically my situation: “i tried the power/home combo, tried the home/up-volume/power combo, each done multiple times, none worked. i knew the phone was working because i could play songs, it rang / vibrate when i used another phone to call it, and itunes detected it, i even could back it up. the only problem is, the whole screen is white and i cant see anything else.

    so, i decided to restore it on itunes. now, restore is done. and the screen is still white. ”

    I really wish I could get this thing fixed myself. From this post I thought it was just a connector that finally rattled loose from me dropping my phone all the time, but, after taking the thing apart, I think it’s a busted LCD.

    I could try taking the LCD off to check more connections, but doing requires breaking a sticker that will for sure void my warranty. I could also ship it to American before my one year warranty expires and beg one of my friends to take it to the Apple Store, but that would cost prob 50 bucks and I would just get it from them when I got there myself. Might as well just buy the AppleCare. Alas. What will I do without an iPhone?

    • John Erik 12:30 am on December 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      UPDATE: Apple rep just extended my broken iPhone’s 1 year warranty because I won’t be stateside when it expires. That means I’ll (hopefully) be getting a brand new replacement iPhone when I return home!

  • John Erik 11:39 am on November 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Melissa is here visiting me from HK. Yay! We’ll be sure and do a YouTube video tomorrow (I’m writing this so we will remember). Today we went to the 798 District and looked at modern Chinese art. Then we went to YaXiu Market and looked at another form of modern Chinese art, knockoff clothing and bags.

    In other news, I dropped my iPhone face first onto the tiled bathroom floor and now the screen shows only white. I think it’s probably a loose wire inside. I took it to the Apple store here in Beijing but they said they couldn’t help because my phone was purchased in America. I’m a little confused as to why that would be the case. I think I’m going to go back tomorrow and talk to them again. Otherwise I’ll just take the phone apart myself, and void the warranty.

  • John Erik 1:54 am on November 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ChinesePod,   

    Just signed up for a Guided account with @ChinesePod. chinesepod logo

    I’ll be using it to keep up my Chinese skills while I’m back in the US for a month or so. Seems like a very cool service.

    • John Erik 4:51 am on November 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      This is cool already. I just got a call some a woman at ChinesePod. She was scheduling my first lesson.

      Though, I think I just told her to sign me up for the Executive plan (USD$200/month) because I thought it was free for a month… oops. I clicked a link that said “Take a free Executive Plan demo!” and filled out the short form without reading anything. For some reason I just interpreted the verbiage as a free month. Oh well, guess I can tell my teacher, Helen, tomorrow (at 16:30).

    • John Erik 10:51 am on November 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Already really liking ChinesePod. Loaded up my feed with lots of lessons I’m excited about. Downloading all the material via iTunes now. I didn’t know iTunes would download PDFs and everything. I thought I would only be getting audio.

      • Bill 3:40 am on November 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        So, did you decide to stick with the Executive plan? I’m following your experiences with Guided/Executive as I’ve yet to make a decision on the level of ChinesePod subscription.

        • John Erik 11:09 am on November 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

          That’s awesome, Bill!

          Nah, I’m back down to the Guided. I sent my tutor an email about my confusion.

    • Dan 9:40 am on November 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I’m one more who will follow your assessment of how that is going. I am doing the reverse – I signed up for ChinesePod as a beginner, after reading and listening to mp3 for a month or two, and next year if I am in China for long enough I will take a class at a University.

      • John Erik 11:10 am on November 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Cool, Dan. So, you already have been using ChinesePod for a month or two?? or you will… and then study.

  • John Erik 10:00 am on November 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Been watching @Melissa and @davemcclure’s tweets all day from the Cyberport Venture Capital Forum in Hong Kong. Not good for staying focused on studying Chinese.

    • John Erik 10:10 am on November 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      It took me like an hour this evening to translate six lines. It didn’t help that we were studying in “Charlie Brown Cafe” and they kept playing the same Charlie Brown songs in French and Chinese. I will never go back to that place without headphones.

    • John Erik 12:52 pm on November 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Melissa just told me all about the event. Man, I thought it was like 35 people, turns there were like 500 or something.

  • John Erik 10:20 am on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ideas,   

    I really want to make an iPhone app that helps people create sentences in Chinese.

    Here’s the minimum viable product:

  • 1. Search for a word or phrase like you would in any Chinese dictionary app.
  • 2. Save it.
  • 3. Search for another word or phrase.
  • 4. Save it….
  • 5. Once you have all the words you want to use in a list, click Make A Sentence.
  • 6. New page. Empty text field at the top. All your words or phrases are below. Drag and drop them into the correct order.
  • 7. You can now copy and paste your new sentence into a text message or email. Or, just say it.


  • John Erik 10:35 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s so much cooler to get comments on my blog than on things in Facebook. Feels more special, I think.

    • Kevin 12:32 am on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Agreed :)

    • Benjamin Hurt 10:06 am on October 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Then I hope this makes your day! haha. Looking over your blog this morning as an example. I am going to begin a similar stream of short and relevant content for conscious capitalism (or social entrepreneurship, or whatever we want to call it). May be coming to you for tips along the way – but love the framework you have here.

  • John Erik 10:17 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Clouds are rolling back in. 

    • John Erik 10:25 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      looking at this picture you wouldn’t think it was below freezing. well, believe me, it is.

    • Matt Genovese 10:25 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Wow….you’re right.

      • John Erik 11:14 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply


        It’s so much cooler to get comments on my blog than on things in Facebook. Feels more special, I think. … I think I’ll tweet this.

    • John Erik 11:14 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Posted this from the WordPress iPhone app.

  • John Erik 9:22 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Beijing, , , notwashingclothes, yashowmarket   

    Here goes trying to use my blog like a longer version of Twitter. I really like this P2 WordPress theme.

    I just got back from shopping at YaShow or YaXiu. I’ve been going there, and to other markets, quite often. Two reasons. One, I can practice my Chinese with the little shop girls. Two, well, I’ve been in Beijing for about two months now and I just washed clothes for the first time yesterday. I’ve just been buy new stuff to wear. Some of my friends in American will later be very happy that I’ve been doing this instead of washing, as I’ll probably hand over a ton of clothes to them. Gucci pants anyone?

    • John Erik 9:23 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Wow no title. That’s a little strange.

    • John Erik 9:36 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t like this no title thing. And it makes my Tweets funny. i.e. my most recent tweet looks like this: “Here goes trying to use my blog like a l…: Here goes trying to use my blog like a longer version of Twitter. I .. “

    • Colin Lowenberg 1:12 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Switch to Tumblr.

    • Cesar Torres 5:25 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      My wait size is 30″, thanks.

      I think Tumblr’s good for images or videos of stuff you *find,* but if you’re blogging/writing, use Posterous.

    • johnerik 8:38 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      i’ve debated over and over about what i should use here. at this point i just want to post stuff and try to not worry about it.

    • Melissa 9:15 am on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Cesar, we already got you not one but TWO cool things. Don’t worry, we know your sizes.

  • John Erik 5:24 pm on October 31, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hmmmmm, tumblr, wordpress   

    Should I, use Tumblr more or treat my wordpress powered blog *like* Tumblr? 

    Feedburner says there about 200 folks subscribed to this blog (that’s excluding 460 from FriendFeed, I thought they fixed that).

    While I’ve been in China I’ve been creating videos and uploading ‘em to YouTube. From there they get auto posted to Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. I’m considering pushing the videos to this blog or at least including them in the RSS.

    Maybe these are the two scenarios:

    1.) Blog and blog feed stay the same and are used to post only longer form content. Have a sidebar with a couple recent videos.

    2.) Basically turn my blog into a Tumblr. Make it more active and live. Have a sidebar with a link list of writings/essays.

    I’m going to sleep on it. But, btw, I’m just used the QuickPress box in WordPress for this post and I’m loving it.

  • John Erik 1:17 pm on October 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Hotspot Shield on blocked from China IP 

    The Great Firewall of China is really killing me today.

    I’ve been using HotSpot Shield for the last couple weeks, but a few days before Chinese National Day (Sept 1) things went kaput.

    I heard about from a buddy here and have use that to look at Facebook a couple times, but it’s kinda of a pain in the ass. I’m using to look at twitter, but, without TweetDeck, what’s the point?

    I Googled Hotspot Shield the other day and I swear my Internet went out until I released and renewed my IP. I’ve heard the same thing from other students here. So this time I went right to and searched Hotspot Shield. When I got to the page I clicked this link to download version 0.942-2 for Mac and… what do you know, “The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.”

    After clicking the link about six more times, finally used and pasted the address. (Using a proxy to download a proxy, that’s almost meta.)

    The download was successful via NinjaCloak, but Hotspot Shield still doesn’t work (I now think it’s because I was watching too many videos and HotSpot decided I wasn’t worth helping because of all the bandwidth I was taking up.)

    Admittedly, I haven’t given much effort to getting connected. I suppose I could do all kinds of stuff to get this working …like setting up my own proxy. Or, I don’t know, asking my cool tech friends about what they do. But, you know, I’m realizing I kinda like not worrying about what the world is doing. I kinda like that I don’t have the ability to Tweet from my iPhone every time something cool happens.

    I like to boast about not owning a TV. And, I take pride in having no clue what 24 is about, or MadMen, or any other show like that. But, really, Facebook and Twitter are the same damn thing. Just stories. Things for us to keep up with.

    It’s nice being disconnected. Who knew. Everything in moderation.

    UPDATE: HotSpot Shield seems to be working fine from China now. You can download it by clicking the link above. If HotSpot still doesn’t work for you, and it did before, they (HotSpot) might have blocked your computer because you’ve been streaming too many videos or some other bandwidth intensive task. You might try uninstalling HotSpot, resetting your browser (google it), and then reinstalling. Or, if you’re there for any length of time, get a VPN, it’s simple and only cost like 50 bucks. I use Witopia. Cheers.

    • pmc1 9:15 am on October 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      shit and I thought you were going to post a solution…..did you find a solution ?

      • John Erik 4:51 pm on October 31, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        yeah man, i actually purchased a vpn from witopia — google em. i think that’s the best way to go. ~50 bucks for a year. and you can use it on multiple computers.

        good luck!

    • springnet 6:31 am on October 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      What about skype? Can you skype out of China?

      If you can, give me a call as I'd like to do a video interview with you for Spring.

      Hope you're doing well and finding proxies.

    • HG 1:58 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      The other solution of course is to leave that shit whole called China, leave them to stew in their own juices, at least if all the foreigners leave they will have to find someone else to blame their problems on.

      • John Erik 9:01 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Ay, guy. Have you ever been to China. It’s not that bad. And I don’t know what your talking about with them blaming their problems on foreigners that live here. China is still a third world country, of course they have problems.

        Do you know how much American currency China owns? I assume your American.

        • James 1:05 pm on June 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

          John, for your reference China isn’t a 3rd world country. Actually China never was considered a “3rd world country” at all. Common misconception.

      • James 1:12 pm on June 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        HG, clearly you’ve never been out of America.

    • Aqil Amzar 6:41 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah! I’ve been living in Shanghai, China for 3 Years! This is suck! They Keep Blocking Stuff One By One!

      • John Erik 9:03 am on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        It does suck. I bought a proxy from and all is well. USD50 for a year. Works like a charm. I highly suggest it.

    • Yukiko 12:29 pm on December 23, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I want to know how I can get connected to Facebook and blocked-China VPN and use Hotspot Shield. Please advice.

    • Bri 2:52 pm on February 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m moving to Xi’an for 5 months to study there. I’m really hoping Skype works. I’m not looking to use the SkypeOut or In feature. Just plain old webcam chatting. Is that possible? Also, what tips do you have for an American living in China? Anything I should bring that I won’t find there?

      • John Erik 3:09 am on February 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        hey! yeah, i have no doubt skype will work fine from there with nothing special (besides high-speed internet).

        as for other tips. my iphone has been incredibly useful — on it i have a chinese-english dictionary, google maps, and a phrase book. if you dont have an iphone, maybe consider getting a iPod Touch. seriously, the dictionary i have on my iPhone is so useful (i use DianHua with the voice extension). iPod touches are like $200, right? that’s just a little more than the price of a good stand alone electronic chinese-english dictionary. why not just buy an iPod T? … what else? if there are things you specifically have questions about please ask away.

        tim ferris has some good tips on things, i especially want the towel he recommends.

    • sams 9:11 am on February 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      anything else u got besides witopia?

    • Wayland 2:06 pm on April 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

    • James 12:59 pm on June 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hey I’m from Canada living in Shenzhen long term now.

      I use Surfbouncer. It’s a pay to use program, twice the price of witopia. I may have to check that one out when my Surfbouncer account expires. Anyone else reading you need to be careful with the free ones, there’s usually a catch.

    • J 12:42 am on September 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, I’m a foreign student in Beijing right now. I and another foreign student tried to download Hotspot, but the website won’t open. Do you know how we can download it? I tried your tip, to use Ninjacloak to enter the Hotspot website to download it, but it won’t either. I can’t afford to pay for a vpn. Thank you for your help!

  • John Erik 10:43 am on August 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

    The importance of knowing what 100 percent feels like 

    Before I ran track in high school, I only thought I could run fast.

    When I got there, my coaches pushed me to to throw up, to pass out, to collapse. They told me my legs *could* move faster, I just needed to commit the movements to muscle memory. They told me I could break a five-minute mile. They told me I could keep running when my mind screamed STOP.

    What I thought was 100% before track, was more like 60%.

    By having experienced my highest threshold, I could more consistently practice at near 80%.

    As my skill and endurance improved, my output at 80% improved and then, in turn, I had to reset the limiter.

    I’m writing this so I will always remember to apply this to whatever it is I’m working on. And always remember the value of having a coach.

    Two notes:

    1.) For everyone, there is an absolute max. Not everyone can be an Olympian. You have to know what you’re good at and go for it.

    2.) Regarding figuring out what you are good at: beware of paralysis by analysis. Pick something and just start. Give it your best. You’ll learn along the way and make adjustments as you go.

    • Donnie 12:29 pm on August 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Knowing your limits is definitely a great lesson learned for exercise and life. Pushing yourself to near 100% for training allows for you to know your body better, but also gain more skill and increase to a new 100%.

      Nowadays, I do CrossFit for this same reason — intensity! For me CrossFit takes giving 100% to a whole new level.

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