Hiking Trails in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is famous for being the freest economy in the world1. She is the number three global financial centre2. The city is the fourth-most densely populated territory3.

Hong Kong is also one of the most popular travel destinations for international travelers. Why?
1.shopping center with no sales tax/VAT
2.six Apple Stores
2.very accessible location with most internationally connected airport
3.Disneyland
4.beautiful skyscrapers in central business district
4.hiking trails, country parks, and the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

 

Hiking Trails

Forty percent of Hong Kong is designated as country parks for nature conservation, countryside recreation, and outdoor education. The country parks comprise scenic hills, woodlands, reservoirs, and coastline in all parts of Hong Kong. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) manages the 24 country parks in Hong Kong. These country parks attract more than 13 million visitors per year and embrace the eco-tour development in Hong Kong.

With steep landscape surrounded by boundless sea, there are many fabulous hiking trails in the country parks. The 100km MacLehose Trail is the longest one, and 2019 marks it’s 40th anniversary. The Dragon’s Back, one of the world’s best hiking trails is in Hong Kong!

The trails in Hong Kong are different from those advantageous and breath-taking trails in Nepal or China. Nevertheless, most of them are easy and good for the family!

 

Dragon's Back Trail in HK

Dragon’s Back Trail in HK

 

“With its unique proximity of the built environment to nature, Hong Kong’s countryside has become a cherished breath of fresh air for the city’s cramped residents.” reported by SCMP.com.

“A hike might reward with panoramic vistas of offshore islands. It could see you soothing your toes on a silk-sand beach or exploring traditional Hakka villages. You might spot birds and monkeys, water buffalo, even a wild boar, or stumble on a rustic seafood restaurant.” recommended by Lonely Planet.

 

Safety

Dry autumn and winter are good for hiking. Wildfires spread quickly uphill. It is difficult nowadays to staff traditional watchtower. How to protect hikers from wildfires? The HK government uses AI-based InsightFD early wildfire detection system to mitigate wildfire risk in the country parks. Three benefits:

    • Fast: AI detection algorithm can early detect flame as small as 2m2. It detects wildfires faster than the nearby citizen
    • Accurate: InsightFD patented technology can accurately locate the latitude, longitude, and altitude of fire detected.
    • Efficient: InsightFD robots work 24×7. Fire crews can remotely view and investigate potential wildfires reported by the public. All these help the fire crews to dispatch its resources more efficiently.

With this good and safe eco-tourism environment, more people participate in hiking activity. Exercise is good for health. It will help HK to keep the world number one in life expectancy4!

 

Picks Of The Week

3 reasons why being around pets can make you happier and healthier, inverse.com
An article about a study by University of Liverpool in October 2019. It shows pets can improve our lives.

Mochi Kitty Frog
Toy for cats.

Mochi Kitty Frog

Mochi Kitty Frog

 

References
1. 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, The Heritage Foundation
2. The Global Financial Centers Index, Z/Yen Group
3. Population density, The World Bank
4. Japan trails Hong Kong in latest life expectancy rankings


Apple AirPods Review – first 12-hour

Available. Finally.

There were news last week about AirPods availability at Apple Retail Store this Monday. Maybe ture, maybe fake. Fortunately it turned out was true! Thank you 9to5Mac!

I got my AirPods in the morning of 19-Dec-2016 at Apple Retail Store, Causeway Bay.

AirPods from Apple Retail Store

It is a three-component device: Right AirPod, Letf AirPod, the Case. It is a wonderful product as I expect. I would like to share my first 12-hour experience with AirPods.

AirPods are very light. It is very comfortable to wear AirPods. It just feels natural. Sometimes I even wonder if they are in my years. They stay firm in my ears. I did a 5km run this evening and found it stayed firm and stable, better than Jaybird X2 and BackBeat Go 2. And there is no wire banging on your neck! Apple does not emphasis AirPods are desiged for sports. But I find it is great for track running! AirPods sound better, clearer, louder, for both streaming audio and phone conversation. I believe AirPods are better than most sport-focused wireless headphone products .

And I ran faster wearing AirPods:)

run faster wearing airpods

One AirPod is a better than Two AirPods!

The best feature to me is I can use a single AirPod for audio streaming! I don’t need stereo sound for podcasts/news. It is more “friendly” to wear a single earpiece when you’re walking or shopping with your family/friends and you are really want to listen to podcasts! You can also hear the ambient sound which is important in some occasions.

Longer battery life.

The best wireless earbuds are the ones always working! Battery is the Achilles’ hills of wireless headphones. AirPod last 5-hour and the case can charge it to work for 24-hour! If use a single AirPod only, a full charged AirPods set can stream podcasts for two days! The battery level is available at multiple interfaces, it is less likely to forget charging the device.

notification center

control center

AirPods are the best holiday gift for iPhone users!


iPhone 7 is gorgeous. Hong Kong Victoria Harbour too.

iphone-7

The iPhone 7 is gorgeous. At the end of “Introducing iPhone 7” video, there is a another gorgeous scene – the Hong Kong Victoria Harbour. There are similar scenes in other iPhone ad…

iPhone 7 ad – Introducing iPhone 7 (2min 6sec)

iPhone 6s ad – The Only Thing That’s Changed Is… (56sec)

iPhone 5 ad – Music Every Day (58sec)

Bokeh.

iphone-5

Bokeh.

散景即是「Bokeh」,這個字一字源於日本,解作「糢糊」;而在攝影術語當中,我們就稱之為照片中失焦的地方,即是「散景」。


When Space was Gray and Rose was Gold

Try to remember the kind of Septermber.

September 2015 was a busy month.

iPhone preorder was better

We had the annual Apple product launch event  on 9th Sep. Then we had the iPhone preordering a few days later. This time the process start at 3pm on 12th Sep in Hong Kong. Last time it was difficult to get an iPhone 6 Plus in Hong Kong and the preorder stock was sold out in two hours. Then at the launch day we had the iReserve process which opened each day at 8am to allow people to register and buy iPhone in store the same day. In order to buy it successfully, many people (including me) used their laptop and iPhone and iPad concurrently to try to access the system. It was one the most popular annual MMOG, worldwide! The iPhone stock was sold out in minutes each day consecutively for a few weeks. Only professional typists, BOTs, lucky and hardworking people could order successfully at iReserve!

This time I didn’t want the new iPhone much because I didn’t want to do much hard-work to get it initially. I might even skip this S upgrade and wait for iPhone 7. 12th Sep was a sunny Saturday afternoon and I was calm and well prepared. Sharp at 3pm I tired to access store.apple.com/hk using my computer, repeatedly pressing command+R to reload the website but failed to do so. The online store was too busy to be accessed, as expected. Unexpectedly I could access the iPhone preorder section of the Apple Store app on my iPad. And I was surprised that I made it! My new iPhone delivery was scheduled sometime between 8th and 15th October. Good. I am happy waiting my new gadget in a couple of weeks.

This preorder process (and success) was a great experience. Many other people also said that they made the preorders via their iOS devices too. I was thinking if this time Apple made a new arrangement: there were more dedicated server resources to support preorders from Apple customers (which are not likely iPhone smugglers) using iOS devices. PC users using browsers and BOTs are competing for another set of online store server resources. It was easier for iOS users to get connected. If so it was a great CRM implementation! Help your loyal customers to do businesses with you!

Next? iPhone Upgrade Program rollout to other markets.

Software update, update and update

iOS 9 was available on 16th Sep, a week after the Apple event. iOS 9 is better, especially the new Slide Over feature which turn iPad a more productive device! We don’t have to switch frequently among apps to do certain tasks (especially writing). A picture tells more than a thousand words:

The new Notifications Center is better too. Sort by time makes much more sense. Search feature in Settings is very useful. We can disconnect connected Bluetooth devices individually at by Settings > Bluetooth. Thanks!

It seems there are changes in VPN and some VPN apps are not working. VyprVPN v2.6.6.2456 works. Thanks!

WatchOS  2.0 was late but available on 21st Sep. I had to turn my Apple Watch off/on to download the new OS. As Ben Thompson said in Exponent podcast episode #53, Third-party Complications should be the most useful and important feature. However, not many watch apps support the new feature. Sleep++ supports it. It was developed by David Smith who also develope Pedometer++, which supports Glances and is very handy and useful.

And, El Capitan is now available!

iPhone 6s Plus is very fast

Surprisingly, in a good sense, my iPhone 6s Plus was delivered today 30th September! Five days after the global launch! Great!

Why Rose Gold? Because it is new. Blink.

The device is very and there are a few reviews. Some more detailed reviews will arrive in the coming weeks. Phonearena found that the iPhone 6s/6s plus battery last longer than previous versions! Amazing!

Below are my sharing the a few hours experience:

  • Touch ID is very fast. I am hardly required to type my lock screen passcode. Great.
  • It is better to hold the iPhone by left hand. It is fine for me to us my left thumb (to use 3D Touch) to press the left edge of the screen to go to app swticher. My right thumb cannot reach the left screen edge. And it is better to use a thinner case which does not obstruct the screen edge.
  • 3D Touch is hard press, not long press. It is about the physical force, not time.
  • Will 3D Touch make the home button obsolete in iPhone 7?…

We had iPhone 5 Space Gray in 2012. We have iPhone 6s/6s Plus Rose Gold in 2015. Huge changes in three years. Both are beautiful.

September is over. Try to remember.


Which CDNs they are using?

Which CDNs are your favourite websites using?

Based on HTTP Archive, on an average webpage we have today:
-1855KB of content size
-97 HTTP requests/objects
-17 domains

As webpage size and number of objects increase, we have longer waterfall diagrams. By studying the waterfall diagram, we can know what are the domains and where are there servers, and then we can figure out which CDNs the website is using (or no CDN).

CDN Planet – CDN Finder is a great tool which makes life easier. Just input the URL then it will check/guess which CDN a webpage is using.

Take http://www.gov.hk as an example, CDN Finder says: “We believe the site http://www.gov.hk is using EdgeCast as a CDN.”

Use this tool to check the Alexa top 25 websites in Hong Kong, Taiwan and US. Then we have the marketshare from six CDN providers of the Alexa top 25 websites in these three markets:

HK TW US
Akamai 50% 36% 36%
EdgeCast 6% 18% 18%
Limelight 6% 0% 5%
Level3 0% 0% 5%
Cloudfront 6% 0% 9%
Cloudflare 6% 18% 5%
others 25% 27% 23%

However, this table is just a rough estimation only.

 

Why?

Since more and more websites adopt multi-CDN strategy to improve performance, sometime we should review the results in details to figure out which CDNs are being used.

Take http://www.pixnet.net as an example. It is the most popular social networking site in Taiwan. Alexa ranking #4 in Taiwan and #11 in Hong Kong respectively. CDN Finder says: “We believe the site http://www.pixnet.net is using Akamai as a CDN.”

Let’s dig into the details and verify the statement.

The following table is generate based on the results from CDN Finder and Webpagetest:

Count Hostname CDN Bytes
36 mainpage.pixfs.net Akamai 101662
27 imageproxy.pimg.tw Akamai 586353
13 s4.pimg.tw EdgeCast 265490
11 s5.pimg.tw EdgeCast 513516
10 s8.pimg.tw EdgeCast 272489
10 s2.pimg.tw EdgeCast 426017
9 counter.pixplug.in 2340
9 s7.pimg.tw EdgeCast 93922
8 s9.pimg.tw EdgeCast 308673
7 s6.pimg.tw EdgeCast 175496
7 af.pixnet.net 105341
7 s1.pimg.tw EdgeCast 123025
6 stats.g.doubleclick.net Google 19384
6 s.pixfs.net Akamai 13205
4 s.pimg.tw EdgeCast 170437
4 libs.pixfs.net Akamai 18792
3 pic.pimg.tw EdgeCast 236873
2 api.pixnet.cc 1885
2 s3.pimg.tw EdgeCast 104232
2 visitor.pixplug.in 865
1 s.pixanalytics.com Akamai 785
1 ajax.googleapis.com Google 33907
1 d31qbv1cthcecs.cloudfront.net Amazon Cloudfront 1879
1 http://www.pixnet.com 134914
1 i18n.pixfs.net Akamai 3170
1 cdn.mxpnl.com Akamai 10039
1 api.mixpanel.com 411
1 ad.pixnet.net 4691
1 pixanalytics.com 851
1 d5nxst8fruw4z.cloudfront.net Amazon Cloudfront 528

The webpage size is 3644KB, with 193 HTTP objects from 29 domains. The table is summarised into this:

Count CDN Bytes Bytes % of Total
76 Akamai 734,006 20%
84 EdgeCast 2,690,170 72%
7 Google 53,291 1%
2 Cloudfront 2,407 0%
24 251,298 7%

The second table says: “We FIND the site http://www.pixnet.net is using both Akamai and EdgeCast as CDNs, with EdgeCast carries most of its traffic.

 

How to use tools is more important than what are the tools.

 


Use VyprVPN to connect to Hong Kong and watch World Cup from overseas

Most of us are busy watching World Cup 2014 this early summer.

TVB gets the sole TV distribution in Hong Kong of this soccer event in Brazil. 22 out of the total 64 games will be available on TV for free. For the other 42 games, Hongkongers either subscribe paid service from TVB or NowTV. Subscribers can watch all the games via TV, computer, smartphone and tablet. The mobile device app myWorldCup is great and provides both live game and goals/goal attempts replay. The app is geo-restricted to be functional for Internet users in Hong Kong only.

I am one of the subscribers and I watch the games mainly on my iPad. It is HD video. I can watch it anywhere, provided my device IP address is a routable IP address in Hong Kong.

The World Cup lasts about one month and it happens that I’m not in Hong Kong sometime during the period. I need a VPN to connect my iPad/iPhone to Hong Kong!

My VPN requirements, in descending order, are:
1.with VPN servers in HK
2.good connection performance
3.with VPN servers in many Asia countries
4.multiple concurrent connections
5.easy to use software

After doing some studies, especially reviews from VPN Creative and BestVPN, I made my short list of VPN providers. I tired to try the VPN services before I purchase because good VPN performance – high speed/capacity and reliability – is not something written on websites but real experience. Finally I subscribed VyprVPN Pro service. My reasons:
-VyprVPN offers free trial and I can try before I buy
-VyprVPN is one of the VPN providers with good VPN server coverage in Hong Kong and Asia.
-VyprVPN connection performance is great. (Will talk more later.)
-VyprVPN price is reasonable. Support multiple connections. The bundled Dump Truck storage is a nice plus!
-VyprVPN interface, both web GUI and PC/mobile app, are very user friendly
-VyprVPN supports both L2TP/IPSEC and OpenVPN protocols

I prefer to use OpenVPN because the VPN connection setup is faster than L2TP/IPSEC. From my experience OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSEC connection speeds are similar. The OpenVPN app provides more information than the VyprVPN app.

Form my viewing experience on iPad and iPhone when I was not in Hong Kong and using VyprVPN, the live videos were HD, smooth, clear and very detail. Below are some screen captures of a live game on iPad:

20140624-161259-58379274.jpg

The live games were streamed via HLS and it was likely that the maximum bitrate was market standard 2Mbps. I found VyprVPN supported more than 2Mbps connectivity between my devices and the Internet in Hong Kong. I used Speedtest with test server in Hong Kong and most of the results were more than 60% of the broadband speeds! Based on the OpenVPN app, there was about 2GB data transmitted via the VPN in two hours, so we have the HLS bitrate at 2GB/2hr = (2048*8Mb)/(2*60*60sec) = 2.28Mbps.

20140624-161403-58443472.jpg

It is explicitly listed on the VyprVPN official website that multiple concurrent connections are supported. VPN software is available on most common platforms. The support page is written very clearly and it is very easy to follow the instructions to set up OpenVPN. All this well written information make me find that VyprVPN provides good services and customer supports.

Good companies help their customers to do businesses with them and use their products/services.

Cheers! Enjoy the World Cup!

Remarks:
a.OpenVPN is an SSL VPN implementation and is not compatible with IPSec, L2TP, or PPTP. See OpenVPN.net.
b.The iOS OpenVPN client uses PolarSSL and is not vulnerable to the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug.
c.VyprVPN users are safe from Heartbleed bug.
d.[update] It is a surprise to me that I received a thank you email from VyprVPN after a few hours this blogpost was published! Anyone who read this blogpost can get a 50% discount for the first month from VyprVPN by clicking the banner below! Cool!!


Crafting a Successful O2O Dialogue

I attended the “Crafting a Successful O2O Dialogue” seminar early this week organised by one of my partners. It focused on Online To Offline, a new business mode combining the online shopping and the front line transactions. Speakers from Bluecom, NDN Group, SalesCatalysts and PayPal shared a lot of valuable knowledge and experiences.

Crafting a Successful O2O Dialogue seminar 20140610

As glass screens get more time & mind shares of people, companies are trying to engage their customers online as well as in the brick-and-mortar retail shops, and vice verse. One of the key success factors to drive more businesses is to have a holistic strategy and execution to connect online and offline customer experiences.

 

O2O is in fact not very new. It is everywhere. Step back, watch out. It is obvious.

I have a recent O2O experience at 7-Eleven. I bought some soft drink and snacks last night (to consume when I watch the opening World Cup game this midnight) and 7-Eleven gave me a Line emoticon card. By scanning the QR code on the card I got some free Line emoticon, as well as I added 7-Eleven Hong Kong in my buddy list. And then I get promotional messages from my new buddy 7-Eleven, I visited 7-Eleven again this morning and bought some more stuff…

7-Eleven and Line joint-marketing

 

PayPal shared in the seminar the research report Modern Spice Routes which they worked with Nielsen last year about Cross-Border Shopping. From the report we have:
1.Cross-border shopping spend will increase from $106B in 2013 to $307B in 2018. Almost 300% growth!

2.The top reasons of buying online from overseas is to “save money” (80% of respondents), followed by “more variety that cannot be found locally” (79%). Half of the shoppers surveyed use PayPals most often for cross-border purchase because they want buyer protection offered by PayPal.

3.Top five cross-border purchase categories: Cloths/Shoes/Accessories, Health & Beauty Products, Personal Electronics, Computer Hardware, Jewellery/Gems and Watches.

4.More than a third of all cross-border online shopping is via mobile devices. How to ease and speed up the buyer journey is critical to drive more transactions.

5.Hong Kong, a small city (in term of physical area) with 7m+ population, is one of the top cross-border shopping destinations:
-US shoppers buy from: UK (49%), China (39%), Canada (34%), HK (20%), Australia (18%)
-Brazil: US (79%), China (48%), HK (17%), UK (17%), Canada (14%)
-UK: US (70%), China (23%), HK (21%), Germany (19%), Ireland (15%)
-China: US (84%), HK (58%), Japan (52%), UK (43%), Australia (39%)
-Australia: US (69%), UK (47%), China (31%), HK (29%), Canada (9%)

Most popular overseas online shopping destinations

All these did not surprise me except the last one. Why HK is one of most popular shopping destination?
-there is no sales tax in HK
-stable currency exchange rate (USD1 = ~HK$7.75)
-good Internet infrastructure
-very easy to set up a company (from seller perspective)
-strong financial and legal systems (from seller perspective)
-no forex volume control (from seller perspective)

Valid points. Too obvious for me to overlook.

“The most obvious and important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.” David Foster Wallace said in the 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College. (Youtube version)

 

In last week WWDC, Apple introduced HealthKit and HomeKit. A lot of articles, blogs and podcasts talked about the event. A good summary is that Apple focused in BTLE and iBeacons the last few years in order to plan for the next Big Thing: “iLifestyle”. Your iPhone will become more context aware – where are you (home, office, shopping mall…), what are you doing (sitting, walking,running, typing, browsing…) and when are you doing exercises. Your home electronic appliance will be switched on/off and adjusted based on your preference stored on your iPhone. Alerts/advises will be given to you about when and how to do sports. Things you may need will come to you when you are shopping and ease/shorten your buyer journey. Computing devices moving from a passive tool to an active assistant. Brand new experience. How? Apple Store will be one of the best places to experience all these. That’s why Angela Ahrendts will focus on “end-to-end Apple Store sales experience”.

O2O.

Remarks:
1.Vector episode 30 is a insightful podcast about wearables, contextual sensors, and how to make them mainstream.
2.Information is overload and we need content curation to help us explore music, as well as news. Zite’s future is unknown after Flipboard bought it from CNN. I’m trying other news readers such as Theneeds, Feedly, Newsify and Digg.
3.By replying on content curation, we hand over our information source to third party which may not have the same interests of us. In Exponent podcast episode 005, Ben and James have serious discussion about it.