Long weekend in Shanghai

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It seems to be a good tradition to visit Shanghai now and then. We met up with friends and ate the fruits and dishes that we craved.

Arriving during Friday’s traffic rush, we had some trouble hailing a taxi from the metro station. A friendly passerby explained that you can bid for taxi’s with an app these days, but instead I called a friend to pick us up.

On Saturday we enjoyed a south Chinese lunch (小南国), haggled for presents at pearl city (didn’t do that for a long time!), and ate a modern Shanghainese meal (Lynn) with different friends.

However good and rich the Chinese kitchen is, the next day we enjoyed Japanese foods like okonomiyaki, shabu shabu, and soba; as those are all also hard to get in my home country. Afterwards we left for a stay at the sofitel Sheshan, a bit outside the city; again amazed by the size of Shanghai, and the ghostly quiet rows of skyscrapers, block after block with each probably capable to host all the people of my small town of Culemborg.

Shanghai is such an energetic city and there is so much to do; we both think it was worth coming here, if even for a short time! Leaving at 5 am to the airport, the G20 was already busy with cars (day and night) and we realized the smog also continues day and night. It has been getting worse and breathing it is the price to pay to live here, I guess one can’t have it all.
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At work; upgraded kieskeurig.nl

I met a colleague in the hallway last week and he asked me about the planned upcoming release of Kieskeurig.nl; He called it a “major league” event. Weirdly, as technical manager of the site, I wasn’t worried about the launch event at all.

“major league”? well, ok, with 2,7 million visits a month a lot was at stake, but we had gone through the entire launch procedure dozens of times. Nothing could go wrong. Personally, I couldn’t wait to launch the user-friendly and responsive site, with improved search and support for new product groups like garden, pharmacy and cosmetics. It was actually long due.

The deadline was today. So we launched yesterday – in the middle of the night, the whole team (which grew a lot recently) joined in to help. Even if only to help with testing, and to be part of it. It was a short night, and when I made my way to the office this morning, we started a hour-to-hour-post-it-based-standups to prioritise potential problems for the site. Needless to say, we ended the day with bubbles and cake.

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I took away a lof of valuable learnings about the process:

  • We work scrum, but just before the launch, had to let go of some of the procedures. Be flexible.
  • Work closely together with experts, the industry and visitors to gain insight. (Reason for us to do AB testing of the site before launch)
  • A sharp deadline (though sometimes painful) works wonders when trying to achieve a lot in little time.
  • I’m really proud of what we build and I want to thank the whole team for their efforts. Tomorrow the real fun starts, in the next chapter.

    visit the site here: http://www.kieskeurig.nl

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    A long weekend in Limburg


    My father in law came over from Korea. A rare occasion so Suna and me wanted to do something special.

    Whilst planning his trip, we realised that during his last visit, we had already shown him most of the popular spots we knew. But not the southern provence of Limburg!

    After booking a holiday house, we decided to give him a full tour in that area, we visited Maastricht, Aachten (DE), Monschou (DE) and Spa Francorchamps. It was a nice week. Had a chance to run in the area, made barbeque in the yard, played games (go-stop is a Korean card game) and I got some reading done there. Since we were planning to visit Andre Rieu (small video here) we booked tickets on our last night there. People around me think Andre Rieu is a bit corny with his popular waltz music. Actually, I haven’t seen Andre play his instrument that much, but he is such an outstanding character, it really makes the show!
    At andre rieu

    Sailing in Holland

    A 14 meter yacht
    I was looking forward to this day. It would be all about summer. But instead, I got up in the morning (very early) and it was grey outside, and the rain was falling. I told myself it wouldn’t be bad and drove the 1,5 hr all the way up north to Enkhuizen. By the time I got there, the sun came through and I met the crew of this epic sailing event specialisterren.nl, Although we met in the office before, it was nice to get acquainted with a coffee.

    Steady as she goes
    We then headed out. The destination: Stavoren (on the opposite of the lake) and I quickly realised sailing isn’t about relaxing and sitting back. It’s hard work to halyard, make hitches and be cautious about what’s happening around you, all this with a lot of wind and rain in your face.

    It was good experience to sail with an experienced team. The owner of the boat has a lot of experience, and a third guest was a sailing teacher. As the only firsttimer, I thought we were don’t well and enjoyed our time out there. Until… we hit the seabed with our keel. Yes. We were going a good 7 knots, and suddenly we all felt a small tremble and a flinch in our velocity and looked at each-other, grabbed what we could and a few seconds later, the boat hit the seabed and with a huge slam, and with a bouncing motion, we almost came to a full stop. Turns out we steered right into undeep waters (< 3 meters). We began raising the keel immediately and calmly waited the shallow waters out. In the end the crew inspected the ship, laughed that everything was ok, and we all continued our journey. Turns out the map did warn us of this, we just came in to quickly. An potentially dangerous mistake.

    Soon after this, we arrived at the Stavoren harbour and enjoyed a nice meal and shared the story with the second specialisterren boat, who managed to get there quicker than us.

    Joop Dorresteijn sailing
    This is me posing for the picture. I tried to help as much as I could!

    Nice contrast, dutch weather

    Suddenly I realised I was worried about the weather for nothing. The typical Dutch skies with a few raindrops here and there actually contributed to the experience. I got to appreciate the landscape and the country a little bit more. Back in the harbour, we reviewed the day and the team was planning to stay the night and head out the next day again. For me it was enough, happy to be back on land I drove back to our home.

    100 years from now

    FC15

    You learn something new every day; what did you learn today? How reddit imagine the world 100 years from now? . Some of my favorites:

    1. TIL Google started out as a search engine.
    2. TIL the term “rewind” comes from having to wind magnetic ribbons around a spool to go backwards in a song or video.
    3. TIL People once actually drove cars completely manually, and this was before human augmentations. They were crashing and killing people all the time and they just accepted that as normal. What the fuck dude…
    4. TIL every home electronic device had to be plugged into walls to get power. They also had to use wires to connect each other to share video, sound, and data.

    Some more:

    1. TIL between 2000 and 2025 there were 179 movies made about the same 14 superheroes (individually or as different pairs/groups), including dozens that were sequels, prequels, or even remakes of the same movie.
    2. TIL people actually paid for the internet.
    3. TIL cloning of Humans used to be illegal
    4. TIL people used to take poison to kill cancer, only some of the time it killed them first.
    5. TIL the U.S. minted “pennies” for over a century
    6. TIL Netflix started by mailing movies to your house.

    Calligraphy Workshop

    caligraphy
    These weekly Korean lessons in Amsterdam are taking a large part of my weekends, so when non curriculum events occur I usually get on my way. However, last week, they organised a calligraphy workshop.

    Since my father-in-law considers calligraphy more then a hobby, I felt obliged to partake. Whilst I didn’t expect it, calligraphy is quite fun. There is also something tranquil about putting hangeul or a hanja character on paper. Together with an official stamp, our first attempts looked like the real deal.

    Entrepreneurship: validating your riskiest assumptions


    Jönköping business school (JIBS) asked me to share some experiences I had regarding the Fashion startup I cofounded in China. I shared some basics about moving to China, and also how to validate your riskiest assumptions, with the startup as a business case.

    Validation forces you to think about all aspects of your company, and then identify the riskiest assumption you make about your customer. Because, you don’t know your customer. You might not even have met your customer.

    So what you do is that you take your assumption and create a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and test the response of people. Dropbox did this by creating a video of how the service could work, to see the reaction. Techcrunch post here: How Dropbox Started with a minimum viable product. Probably they were able to distill a lot of information from the reactions of the people.

    Don’t just ask them, would you use this? I did this for one startup and most people said they would buy product X. When the product was out, they didn’t open their wallets. Get them to do something for you: Pay money, share on twitter, at least some confirmation that they are really engaged.

    Are Hong Kong & Macau Countries?

    I love the video’s of the mapgeek CGP Grey. He did a great video about the complexities of the UK naming, and the differences between the Dutch, Holland and The Netherlands. (which I sent to all people who get confused) While watching the Hong Kong/Macau video above, I was mildly interested but the best part is that he used one of my Flickr photo’s at 2:15. Glad I have contributed in some way to his video’s, long live creative common :-)

    Watcha.net; Movie recommendation engine

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    Shall we watch a movie this weekend? Yes sure, but which one?

    Watcha.net is a movie recommendation engine from Korea. I’ve just subscribed and had to vote on 50 movies that I liked. Now it’s already throwing some good recommendations to me. Building the profile is quite addictive, browsing around the old movies you watched in the past.

    There are similar websites like this, but this Korean one seems really good. I’m really curious how this profiling works; is it capturing my movie taste though meta data of the various movies I clicked, or just throwing similar genre’s of previously selected movies? Better vote for a few more movies to be sure…

    I like the GUI, link with IMDB top movies, festivals, filmhouse, and little trailers that can give you a snapshot. And better yet, you can recommend movies to your friends too!  The Android app is here, the iPhone app is hopefully in the making.