Tag Archives: technology

Slow Internet Speeds In China

I recently came upon an article by writer Frank Hersey on Technode which presented a study made by Cable.co.uk comparing 189 countries internet speeds in Mbps. According to this study of 189 countries, Singapore has the fastest internet in the world, while Yemen has the slowest.

Upon finishing the article, I was somewhat taken aback. I had always thought of South Korea as being the country with the fastest internet speeds. However, it did not even place among the top ten, ranking 16th at 22.9 Mbps.

But what about China’s internet speed? Certainly that is what we should be focusing on here, given the nature of the blog. 

There are so many things I love about China. The crazy English sayings people wear on their shirts, rich and diverse cuisine, a challenging language, the list goes on and on.

However all countries have problems, and China is definitely not the exception. Pollution, corruption, and irksome crowds are all examples of what people have to put up with here. But aside from these hardships, there is another, slightly more insidious problem: internet speed.

Internet Speed in China Is a Serious Problem

According to the study by Cable.co.uk, China ranked 134th out of 189 countries at 1.55 Mbps.

Yes, China’s internet is incredibly slow.

Now, I could give you anecdotal evidence all day of me, bashing my head against my router while fiddling with my VPN in hopes of increasing download speeds. The startling frequency in which I switch to 4G on my phone because a landline simply won’t load the web page fast enough.

When you consider just how “developed” and “sophisticated” people talk about China is, especially in terms of it’s technology, this becomes slightly shocking. Of course, for Chinese and people that work on Mainland China, it’s not shocking at all. We have been struggling with slow internet speeds the whole time.

As someone who works on his computer from 9-5 everyday, usually employing some type of internet service, this is a massive problem. It also affects areas outside of my professional life (such as this blog- hello upload times).

The Deeper Implications of Slow Internet

While I can complain all day about how long it takes for me to boot up a VPN to get through the firewall, then sit through the slow download speeds on my favorite Youtube music video, there are perhaps larger, more important things that we can take away from this study.

The impact of slow internet creates ripples of negative effects in China as a whole. First, it effects workers in the knowledge sector, who rely heavily on IT and network connections to exchange information and use web-based services. Second, it limits a company’s potential to develop internationally, lessening their appeal to international talent and handicapping their headquarters on the mainland. Of course, these two problems are intertwined, but still different enough that they deserve their own individual mention.

Internet Speed Impacts Knowledge Worker Efficiency 

There is no doubt that sluggish Mbps drastically reduces worker efficiency in the knowledge sector. For those of my readers who aren’t clear about how internet speed could negatively impact one’s work, I thought up a metaphor using construction tools.

Think of it this way, when you are building a house, you often can employ power tools such as nail guns and drills to conserve energy while increasing your speed of production. Now, you can do the same job with hammers and screwdrivers, but it will take much more time and energy than if you had the power tools.

For people that rely heavily on the web, using quality power tools is a lot like having a lightning fast connection to the internet. It makes their work more efficient and allows them to focus their effort in the areas where problems really lay.

So, at the micro-level, slow internet really hampers a knowledge workers performance. 

But who cares about that right? A lot of us on the web are old enough to remember the times of dial-up internet connections. We all turned out fine, didn’t we?

Slow Internet Weakens A Firm’s International Competitiveness 

It’s actually a very big deal. Most jobs today, outside of IT purists, rely on using the web in some way. Moreover, some of today’s most profitable and dynamic companies employ strong technology strategies.

Knowledge workers with slow internet speeds become bogged down, and this negatively effects a company’s bottom line. Whether it means the employee needs to work harder, or a department needs to push back it’s deadline, slower internet hinders a teams ability to complete tasks.

Here is important to make the distinction between domestic and international organizations. Competitively speaking, ranking low in this survey is not as important for domestic firms because they are all working in similar conditions and the playing field is level. However, in the international space, this becomes a major disadvantage.

Not only will international companies have this problem, but they will also find it increasingly hard to attract international talent. While this is important in all sectors, it is particularly important in companies that hope to use new technology, as those with expertise often come from outside of the country.

Final Thoughts

While not necessarily a “deal breaker”, internet speed is certainly a big factor for individuals and larger corporations alike. While we could all probably do with less time in front of the internet, it’s important that when we need it to work, it works.

Sidenote: Domestically hosted sites inside of the firewall are significantly faster than those coming from outside. Not really an Eisenstein-like comment, but something you might not appreciate fully unless you have spent some time in China. 

Original Study: https://www.cable.co.uk/blogs/2017/08/09/cable-co-uk-worldwide-broadband-speed-league/

Technode Article: http://technode.com/2017/08/10/chinas-internet-speed-comes-in-at-134th/

What’s Up With This Sharing Economy Thing?

“What’s up with this sharing economy thing?” I say to my friend Mike as I stare at the line of beat-up yellow bicycles parked at the foot of my apartment building.

WeChat Image_20170620163351

“It’s kind of like an agreement. We all put in some money and then share something.” Mike gestures to the line of yellow bicycles. “It’s kind of like everyone in the city buys a bicycle, but doesn’t lock them.”

“I see. Still, it seems a little odd to me. There are so many of them now.”

“Yeah, I know. Seems like people really like to share when everyone benefits.”

I nod my head to Mike. I guess I can’t argue with that. It’s nice to be able to ride a bicycle in any part of the city and not worry if someone is going to steal it or not. When you have a good subway system and access to bicycles at every stop it makes you wonder why someone would want to buy a car in the first place.

Then you get on the subway in the heat of summer. Everyone is sweaty and you can’t find a seat. Your clothes stick to your skin like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth and you suddenly don’t wonder so much why people still drive cars.

Mike and I ride our yellow bicycles out of the compound and down a dusty street in search of some stir-fried vegetables over rice. Still, I think to myself, there have been much worse ideas.

小黄车 xiǎo huángchē- a new word with Min老师

WeChat Image_20170620162746

The Power of Simple Language + a Poem

The verb “to like” is simple and powerful. Often we don’t understand the weight of simple language. We think that if it’s simple then it’s boring and accordingly write it off.

Oh, I would much prefer to use prettier words like enjoy, love, or obsession. 

But perhaps the power of the verb “to like” lies in it’s simplicity. That is to say, almost everyone understands a smile or a frown. (Sure, there are probably exceptions to this in some country, but I rest easy in spouting this as a truism.)

I wrote this poem on a whim. It’s about my likes and dislikes. There is a slight anti-technologist edge which I think resides in all of us.

Anyhow, here it is. 🙂

I like to Write

I like to write late at night and early in the morning.
I like to burn incense in my fake stone incense holder.
I like the way it makes the room smell.
Sometimes I pretend I am in an opium den.

I like to listen to electronic music and run down by the river.
I like to wear my sunglasses and a t-shirt while I cruise on my scooter.
I like to walk in my sandals and drink milk tea.

I don’t like emails and text messages and phone calls.
I don’t like how many social media accounts I have.
I don’t like the sound of my refrigerator running all night.

I do like rainy days and drinking coffee.
Reading a book, not the kindle version.
Talking with a pretty girl who smiles like the Californian sunshine.

Modern and Drab Seoul

I recently completed my goal to visit the triumvirate of northeast Asian Mega-cities: Beijing, Tokyo, and Seoul.

Seoul lights in Gangnam.

Seoul lights in Gangnam.

All of these cities are massive. But they are also unique.

Beijing, where I live, is gritty and brutish.

Tokyo is dazzling and unique.

Seoul is…

Seoul is modern.

I knew that it was technologically advanced, but I didn’t expect so many free internet access points and for everything to be so clean. That’s a big plus, especially when you are coming from China’s tight internet restrictions and less than ideal sanitation.

It’s geography is also quite nice. It’s hilly and that gives it some character. Maybe I’m partial because Beijing is so flat.

And while Seoul is ideal for tech and cleanliness, it is also a bit bland. In terms of architecture, at least. The buildings are all pretty similar and leave something to be desired.

(I would also comment on their music/movie scene, but I feel it’s too early for that. They might have something unique there, but it still needs time. I will give them the benefit of the doubt- even though Gangnam Style is a little… OK moving on.)

On the whole, I think it’s not quite a bad place at all. Safe, clean, and technologically advanced. In terms of style it’s no NYC or Tokyo, but that’s OK. I suppose that may be a title not everyone actually wants. 

It’s nice to finally visit all three cities. It took four years and I feel like I now have a really strong breadth of this area. 

Funny that even though I have noticed many unique characteristics, I have found that these three places actually have far more similarities than differences. The food, family values, and culture of face all seem ubiquitous.

While I feel like this trip definitely closes a chapter in my traveling career, I also look forward to visiting these places again someday. Each has a very youthful vibe and it’s almost like you can taste the change in the air.

I like that. I like when people push the status quo.



Time and money.

We always want more. And when we get more, it’s never enough.

“Wow! How did you do that? How did I ever live without…

a food delivery service app,

a ride sharing service,


But what happens when we give people too much time? Too much money? We have to change and adapt.

We have to take more responsibility and evolve.