More and more I’m hearing folks ask me how do you sign up for Weibo in English, so I thought I’d make a quick little guide with the help of my translator (i.e. wife).
The easiest way to do this is to download Google Chrome and get the translation extension that will translate, on the fly, any webpage. Now the English-Chinese translations are never quite perfect, in fact, they’re usually quite a bit worse than say English-Spanish or English-French, but you can get the general idea of what is going on through those plug-ins that will do the translation for you.
If you don’t have Google Chrome, here is what the first two pages say when you get started with Weibo.
That will take you to the details screen, where you enter the details as follows. When you click the submit button at the end, you’ll get an activation notice saying that an email has been sent your email address. Click the link there and you should be good to go.
When I moved to Hong Kong the air pollution that month was quite obscene. Schools were closed and outdoor activities around the city were cancelled as the air pollution indexes officially “topped out” in both Hong Kong and cities across the mainland (due to pollution, some weather, and a bit dust storm up North). Unfortunately I hadn’t a clue what the Hong Kong Air Pollution Index meant, and what was the difference between a reading of 100 or say 200 (on the scale of 500).
So I did some investigating and found the issue of air pollution and how to measure it is highly complicated and controversial. Hong Kong’s standards were decades out of date compared to new scientific evidence on the effects of pollution, and promises to upgrade continued on and on again. I decided there had to be an easier way to know if it was safe to send the kids outside or not.
I built a Hong Kong air pollution website which is primarily a math exercise. Those looking for funky graphics will find themselves sorely disappointed. But it enabled me to get a handle on the math behind air pollution equations, and from that I was able to start displaying the air quality in Hong Kong by using other standards from different countries.
“This would be a cool app” I thought, and started on the path of teaching myself how to develop an iPhone app. I got pretty well along, with one or two major hitches, so I decided to hire a freelancer. That went badly. We didn’t communicate well and promises of “another week, another week” stretched into months. I finally gave up and hired a professional software company that was able to put out a finished product in very quick order.
So now the Hong Kong Air Pollution app is online and ready for business. And just in time for the release, the air quality in Hong Kong has mellowed quite a bit. A monsoon hangs over Hong Kong keeping the air pollution down and interest in monitoring somewhat subdued. But I’m sure in a few weeks we’ll start to peak up against the warning limits once again and we’ll start to see some more downloads.
Today the lines are back, and organization is being forced on those waiting by the police and security officials. “Cattle pens” have been set up to keep the iPhone line sitters from milling about, cutting in line, getting distracted, etc. Police using crush barricades have made nearly 45 pens along the Star Ferry walkway outside the Apple Store, and are filling each pen with about 20 people. When someone tries to leave a pen to go to the bathroom or get some food, security officials photograph them with a digital camera so they will be allowed to re-enter their sorted pen.
But this isn’t enough.
The 45 pens stretch nearly the entire distance of the Star Ferry walkway to just a few hundred feet from the ferry entrance. The surging mass of 100s who have yet to be penned are now stuck behind the last pen and the entrance to the ferry. Security officials (including some from Apple) are now building new pens on the other side of the walkway to shepherd in the waiting masses.
The scene is pretty surreal. These are not “Apple Fanboys” by any stretch, but low income migrant workers from places like Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. There are men, women, old grandmothers, even some infant babies who are bundled up tight for the long night ahead. There are also plenty of wannabe-Triad boys, gathered together with funky haircuts and tattoos, many of them with their faces covered by surgical masks (and it’s not because they have a cold). Each iPhone they are able to buy will bring a profit of about $100US, which is the same as a weeks wages in some of the lower income jobs in Hong Kong. If the limit is 5 iPhones per person, they’ll each clear a month’s worth of work so you begin to understand while they are willing to sleep outside all night.
UPDATE 5:00pm: I added some more photos from this evening. Police have dispatched a platoon of riot police known as a PTU unit. The line extended at one time down the ferry bridge and onto the street, but after some reshuffling of the ‘pens’ they seem to get everyone back up on the bridge. It also appears that they are not allowing anyone else to enter the line, but I can’t tell if that was a temporary thing or permanent change (my Cantonese isn’t that good).
They love their Apple gear in Hong Kong, and they also love to line up to get it. In fact, this line of about 150-200 people outside the Hong Kong Apple Store isn’t even “official”–it’s just people milling about waiting to get into the official line that will start “soon” according to some in the know.
Just a few pictures from tonight’s vigil at the Apple store. That’s @hypercasey on the ladder, graciously provided to us by the IFC Security Team (who were also handing out post-it notes). @angiewong is there giving interviews as she was the coordinator of tonight’s event.
This was the scene at the Hong Kong Apple Store in IFC Mall. First flowers arrived (with the subsequent media mobbing the mourner). Tonight there will be an iVigil at 7:00PM where Apple fans will pay their respects.
Spent the morning with the Apple fans and media checking out the new Apple Store in Hong Kong. Basically it’s an Apple Store, but with a few tweaks here and there for the Asian market, such as a slightly different POS payment system, and more iPads on the floor than you’ll see pretty much at any other Apple Store.
The worst kept secret in Hong Kong has been that the rather plain looking construction in IFC mall Hong Kong would soon be a new Apple Store. In fact those who use Foursquare have been able to check in for months now to a store that to this date has just been a bunch of plywood. But late last night the plywood was recovered in what most people are saying is a rather ugly Apple signage. Red and white to match the taxis of Hong Kong I guess.
In slightly related news, the Apple reseller in IFC, DG Lifestyle, officially closed this weekend in anticipation of the Apple launch. They have moved their store to nearby Pacific Place where they have a monopoly on Apple gear in that mall.
UPDATE: Wed. March 23. 8:00 PM. We’ll be meeting to put together the remaining kits at Boot.hk offices.
Last night members of the Hong Kong Hackerspace, aka Hong Kong Hackjam, got together at the Boot.HK offices to undertake a quick project to help victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. With electricity out in many parts of Japan, the call went out from the Tokyo Hackerspace community asking for help in providing lighting, networking and other electronic supplies for victims of the disaster.
Here in Hong Kong we settled on the quick and easy (somewhat) task of building “Minty Boosts“. These are battery powered USB chargers that can be used with any AA battery to charge a mobile phone or other electronic device. The entire hardware is soldered together and throw into a candy or mint box, thus the name “Minty Boost”.
Over a dozen hackers and technology enthusiasts gathered last night to throw together some relief supplies that will be sent to Tokyo in the next day or two. Only a couple of the devices (mine included) ended up FUBAR, as is to be expected as some of us were not that experienced with a soldering iron. But many others were thrown together by are more hack-savvy members and were charging phones by the end of the night with great success.
Here are some pics of the effort. If you want to donate other supplies or time, check out the requests from the Tokyo Hackerspace.