Tony Blair and Irony...

This from the Times online:

"Tony Blair continues his farewell tour of Africa today, as he seeks to highlight his approach to the foreign policy of "enlightened intervention".

Does "enlightened intervention" apply to Iraq Mr Blair?

... And people say Hong Kong politicians are bad. They may be inefficient but at least they didn't cause this mess.

Third of bloggers 'risk the sack'

Interesting article on the BBC web site link about blogging and the risk of being sacked for saying something negative about the company.

Now before I go ANY further: *** I love my boos and I love the company I work for***

Phew. No risk to me then.

Seriously though, on many blogs I have read the person comment about {sic} a company. This is madness. The fact is that all someone has to do is Google the bloggers name see here for example and fairly quickly they will be able to find out who said person works for. I am of course assuming that the blogger in question has not been so stupid as to mention his companies name, or worse still a company secret/project directly in the blog, but there are many stupid people out there.

As the Beeb points out:
""Employers need to ensure that they carefully consider the impact of blogging on their organisation and take appropriate steps to minimise any potential risk," she said."

But I fear that many organisations miss the point of blogs. They can be a force for good PR and marketing of the person and potentially of the company (if they allow this).

The simple fact is that an organisations should have one of 2 rules:

1. Blog all you like and say anything about the company
2. Blog away chaps, but don't mention the company in any way or you are fired.


Bowl of fanny anyone?

Living in a foreign country for some reason always gives us native English speakers a reason to feel superior and snigger at our hosts efforts to write down our language.

This is of course completely unfair (for instance how much Chinese can I write?) Never the less, on the walk into work this made me chuckle (if only I had my camera with me).

"Bowl of Fanny special only $7."

Now dear readers, this is of course Fanny Noodle restaurant (what were you thinking!?) But it made me laugh on a hot morning.

... Oh for a bowl of hot fanny on the way to work. OK, OK I'll stop now.

The key to understanding women

It may be a joke, but I have to say its so true... Much love to my friend Fi who sent this to me.

A man riding his Harley was riding along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said,

"Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."

The biker pulled over and said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can ride over anytime I want."

The Lord said, "Your request is materialistic, think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking; the supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources.

I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things.

Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help mankind."

The biker thought about it for a long time.

Finally, he said, "Lord, I wish that I and all men could understand our wives;

I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy."

The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

Beer tax to be cut in HK - BREAKING NEWS!

Well its either a very slow news day in Hong Kong or its a Sunday. Maybe its both. As I sit here in blazing sunshine and relaxing, front page news is that Beer duty will be cut and the savings passed onto consumers.

This warrants a note in my blog for several reasons. One being that I am drinking beer (so any cut in costs is great) and reason 2 is what duty can you cut on beer? A bottled beer is half the cost of one in the UK and one from the supermarket is about 30p.

Who knows? But is this really front page news? The South China Post is the biggest selling English speaking newspaper in China. I would hate to think that they are assuming that all westerners would rather know about beer than the lastest goverment scandal - Shame on them.

... In the meantime back to my beer.

This is NOT the Hong Kong Dog Diaries

I promise that this is the last entry about the dog. But before I move onto more serious topics (or as serious as I can...) I had to send out a link to Padstow's web page. I like to think of his story as pauper to pampered pooch...

Here is the link

Next entry - Serious stuff (I promise)

How do you deal with a female Chinese torture expert?

Its Friday so I decided to go and get a new phone. I liked the look of the BlackBerry Pearl and was assured by the salesman that he would st it up so that it works for me.

All good so far.

But then (this is China) there was a beauratic issue. The female saleswoman, whos only job would seem to be data entry took over starting up my account.

So, I hand over my ID card, phone bill, letter from the Embassy (stating where I live) and my passport. You would at this point think that this is enough information... Oh but wait.

(SW) "This ID car no good."
(Me) "Really? Why?"
(SW) "Not enough digits, it is not good."
(Me) "It is fine. if it is fine for the Hong Kong Government, the Chinese government, my employer and just about everyone else on this island I feel sure it is fine for you."
(SW) "I need HK ID card This one is no good."

At this point I am wondering why they threw her out of her job at the Chinese torture camp and am thinking it was probably due to something akin to what she is doing to me right now. After several minutes of patient face saving from me to her, she finally relents and gives me a solution.

(SW) "You could get a Hong Kong friend to come in with their ID card, I can then process it this way."
(ME) So you are saying that you can't accept my EMBASSY ID CARD BUT YOU WILL ACCEPT ANY OLD SOD OF THE STREET???!"
(SW) "Yes. You have friend?"
(SW) "Hong Kong ID only, you have friend?"
(ME) "I surrender, I'll take my business to 3"

Well it looks like Vodafone have all the customers that they need. A good lesson in the culture of China though. Have to work on ways around this.

First month in Hong Kong

This week-end Mrs b and I will be celebrating our first full month living in Hong Kong. Its been a great adventure and as if we didn't have enough going in (ie; moving half way around the world, moving all our possessions and renting out 2 houses in the UK) we have also taken a dog into the family.

I have learnt a lot in the last 4 weeks and I feel sure that I am going to learn a lot more. The heat is coming, and as someone kindly pointed out in the comments section it is going to get hotter in June & July (oh good just what Hong Kong needs, more heat to keep the smog in).

Coming to Hong Kong has allayed many of my worries. Life here seems to be as it was 10 years ago under the British and I really don't see the so-called communist "aura" that many people talk about.

Sure there is only one party, corrupt officials and land owners who are running monopolies but this is no different to the UK. There we have had Labour for 10 years, ALL officials are corrupt or stupid (immigration, house packs the list goes on) and as for oligarchs, have you seen how many Russians are in London?

For every negative in HK I see a positive. yes the pollution is bad so in the UK we have gun/knife crime which Hong Kong doesn't.

All in I think that HK is doing very well for itself. Life under China may mean that you can't vote (but then again in the UK I voted and look at what we got!) but the upside is that Hong Kong is so well placed to take advantage of the integration with China's huge economic potential.

Hong Kong can also be a leader in this region. having all signs in both English and Chinese is of course a bonus to visitors and ex-pats but it is this experience that Beijing is looking to for the Olympics (as of course no one can get round if they can't read Chinese).

Hong Kong has been and always be (somehow) like a cat. Always landing on its feet...

Boo-Hoo for you

This reaches my inbox from someone trying to show me what "Asia marketing is all about."

I am not so sure though, I think its just the Japanese sense of humor:

Watch Boo-Hoo for you!

Tramps & free newspaper handouts

Reader 962 quite rightly pointed out in the comments section on my SMC article that there is something worse than slow old people - and that is the tramps in central.

They are bad, I have to agree. But I think I can top them.

The people who hand out free newspapers. They always seem to be in Chinese, and when I walk to work they either (1) trust one into my land like it has leprosy. I mean, I know they are busy, but I am a 6 ft WESTERNER/WHITE/WITH PUBLIC SCHOOL BOY ACCENT. How can they confuse me with someone who would read Chinese?? Its not rocket science, handing out free newspaper hardly sits up there with being the Prime Minister or a brain surgeon....

And speaking of this - Why is there a simplified Chinese vs... What exactly? Really bloody complicated Chinese? If it takes 26,000 characters to read the front page of a newspaper, I would say that this is not simple.

But I digress.

... or (2) shove the damn thing right in front of me so that some Chinese (reader) can cut across my path and grab it.

Damn them, damn the tramps, and damn old people! (only the ones who walk slowly though)

Only 4 weeks into being an ex-pat and I am ranting like the editor of the Daily Mail (and I'm only 30!) I am either turning into a mini Hemlock or my dad. Next stop membership of the Foreign Correspondents Club I suppose...


Walking to the Star Ferry this morning I came across a new phenomenon (to me anyway) the SMC. This stands for Slow Moving Chinese. For some reason "older people" decide that rush hour (ie 8.30 am) is a good time to go for a stroll and take UP THE WHOLE PAVEMENT.

Why do they do this? Could they not walk single file? Its amazing, as soon as any space opens up they fan out like synchronised swimmers and stop anyone from passing.

I can only liken it to being in a Porsche driving to Stanley and being caught behind 5 buses. They know where they are going, but they are not going to get there as quickly as you could.

This got me thinking (as you can read I had some spare time) in a place where there are rules for everything (no spitting, no dogs in the park, no fun on a Sunday ect) could they not ban these old people from the streets between 8-9 am? I like old people, I really do, just not when I am trying to get to work on time.

Its a sort of Older ASBO I suppose (those in the UK will know what I am talking about).

French 'are world's worst work whingers'

... And The Times calls this news?

I have only been in Hong Kong a month and I feel like all the fun of the UK is pasing me by. Taxes, crime, inefficient local government and some beating up of teh French. Boy oh boy do I miss it. Really I do.

Full Times article here

In other news: Thank you for all the comments that you have been leaving recently, nice to know that you are reading this. Padstow seems to be particular popular - He is getting to know his new home and is doing really well. More news and photos to follow over the week-end.

Our new arrival has arrived!

Well - This was some news that I did not expect to write so soon.

Then again, I don't think Mrs B expected to have a new member of the family so soon either. Normally she is the queen of "investigate, worry, think, look around and wait" - All very sensible.

(For those of you who know Mrs B you will fully understand that she NEVER makes a rash decision.)

However, faced with this little chap and a 30 minute "trial walk" all of that went out of the window.

I am happy to announce that she fell in love with this little chap (and who wouldn't!)

He is a 9 month old puppy (abandoned, we don't know why) now called "Padstow" or "Pads" for short. He is a naughty monster who currently shits on the floor but is still very much loved. He is a nosy chap, no room is out of his domain, and during the night he likes to pop into our bedroom and check that we are still sleeping as part of his nightly patrol.

Snacks (in fact any food stuff) is very much a temptation and you will often hear the words "Padsow, NO!" shouted along Kennedy Road by Mrs B as she tries to keep him off the fallen berries that adorn the pavement.

This chap is admired by all who meet him and is greeted in a very friendly manor. I don't think we could have found better.

So if you are planning to pop round or stay over please note that we have a guard dog who will insist on checking you out, and if you let him lick you a great deal!

I am sure that you will give him a warm welcome - and I will ask him to post a message on this blog as soon as he is comfortable in his new home.

5 Things I hate about Hong Kong

Yesterday I told you what I love about Hong Kong, today we'll look at the bad:

1. Weather It gets hotter than Hades at times in this place
2. Crowds Does no one wait while you try and get off the MTR?
3. Noodles Some days I just want a burger, a really good burger
4. Turtles They have eaten all my Tetra fish and have now started on my plants.
5. Porsches Hong Kong has more super cars per person than anywhere else in the world. The problem - I don't have one yet

Number 5 really bothers me at the moment. Mrs b won't let me buy the car until I have the cash. For some reason robbing a bank is illegal (and she says I can't use diplomatic immunity for this despite what I feel is "fair grounds; a need for some cash quickly") and she won't let me get a loan (too expensive - Oh OK! The fact the car costs $900,000 isn't??!).

I feel that she is being unreasonable - I have given her two very good ideas on how we could buy the car and she has rejected both. Then again she is a woman, so being unreasonable (especially about cars) is normal/to be expected. Oh how I wish for the Victorian times when women didn't have the vote and therefore could not decide what the husband spent his money on (and yes before you tell me I know they didn't have Porsches in those days).

Anyone who has managed to persuade their wives to let them buy a ridiculously expensive car that is completely useless and destroys the planet, please leave a comment and tell the rest for us what your secret is.

Top 10 things I love about Hong Kong

So I have been here in Hong Kong (as a resident) for 3 weeks now.

1. The Peak restaurant (in fact there are so many great places to eat in Hong Kong.)
2. My commute to work Who could not like taking the star ferry over the harbour (and seeing the Hong Kong skyline every morning)
3. Polite staff Everywhere people are polite and helpful
4. Climate Tuesday evening, myself and Mrs b were having a glass of wine at 11 pm at an outside bar. That can't be a bad thing...
5. Technology shops - Happy days! I'm in the Tech capital of the world
6. Travel Hong Kong has one of the best connected airports in the world - And we are on the doorstop of China. There is a lot to see and do in this region.
7. Our flat Thank you UK taxpayers - We pay no rent (and if you hate me for that, you will really hate number 10) We have a huge floor space and two balconies! All this on HK island (thats about $10,000 a month in rent!.)
8. No crime Hong Kong is so safe, its really, really safe.
9. Porsche prices (no sales tax to pay! 50% off a Porsche!)

I may never leave Hong Kong at this rate as you can see. But there are things that I do not like, so tomorrow we will cover those off.

One Tiger Penis to Go, Sir?

In China as they say people do things little differently. (Note before I go any further: myself and Mrs b have NO issues in the bedroom) but yesterday we were walking past a Chinese medicine shop and paused to have a look around.

Something odd caught my eye in a jar - The nice Chinese doctor asked me if I needed some potency! This much to the amusement of Mrs b who translated the "cure" to be Tiger penis. I had the distinct feeling that I may have done something wrong in her eyes and it may actually not have been the said item, but until my Cantonese is a as good as hers, I am at the mercy of her translation. I looked to Mrs b (crying with laughter - Charming!) and asked why she thought I needed any potency? I had hoped that Mrs b would reassure me that I didn't need any, but this was obviously too good an opportunity for her to carry on laughing at my expense. To which she did for several hours! (She is not as sweet as she looks, let me tell you!)

Now, don't get this wrong - I love many things Chinese. Hell, I even have a golden cat (for luck) But I am really not sure that grinding up a tigers thing and drinking it with some tea is going to help. Maybe thats just me??!

This now amounts to number 2 on the list if things that I will not eat in China (n/1 being Chicken feet). I have a funny feeling that within a week I will have number 3 on my list.

Welcome to Hong Kong (as I tell myself very day...)

Digg and IP rights

Well after yesterdays fun and games (if you haven't read it, Mrs B and I have been talking about my new car, worth a read) we are back to the subject of business blogging.

And one of the top challenges in China (apart from marketing) is Intellectual Property. Now, I am not one to want to make lawyers any richer than they are, but the fact is that IP is important to all of us, whether we are a government employee or a corporate worker.

Fake or pirated goods are a big problem and there are many battles going on. However todays events on Digg regarding a DRM post and the ensuing mess that resulted are certainly worth noting.

Today, I watched with amusement as many Digg readers blasted the site with the DVD encryption crack code articles. Digg is all about user voting, and what makes the site (people power) actually brought the site down. Not necessarily a bad thing for web 2.0 but it will certainly make online marketing harder.

(Background if you don't know what happened - Digg took down one article that broke copyright (according to "a film studio legal letter") and so the Digg readers posted 1,000's of similar articles and voted on them.)

The issue is that by trying to eliminate a story, the studio (in this instance) has highlighted the issue to a much wider audience and upset their very consumers. Even worse they created a cause for people to jump on.

And the real irony is that DRM is by far the least of the movie studios issues as regards piracy. If they spent time in either Hong Kong or China (in fact probably most places in Asia) they would understand this.

Will these large corporations and their legions of PR & IP lawyers look at this example and learn? I'm sad to say that I don't think they will.

Smart marketers and SEO experts will though. Digg is used by many companies to gauge PR buzz and popularity, I have seen this on so many PowerPoint presentations it almost looses its effect. However, consumers trust these reviews and use them in their purchase decision making them important and very visible.

I compare the Digg effect to the equivalent of marketing dominoes - Once they start its very hard to stop them. This can be a power for marketing good as well as a brand threat.

When you look at China and all the pirated DVD's that are for sales (even in Hong Kong) you release that trying to take down one Digg article is pointless. The studios should be removing the DRM locks all together and thus giving people a higher quality product option over a pirate copy.

What we as marketeers have to remember is that the consumer always has a choice. Now, that choice is made (many times) though the internet, and increasingly through mediums that corporations do not control. In this case people gaining the code to unlock DVD's.

So back to Digg. They took down one article, the users put up 1,0o0's of "marketing dominios" (500,000 Diggs at the time of writing this)

I can't help but feel that the studios may have "won the battle" but I'm not sure that they are going in the right direction to win the war. And if they loose the war to make movies, we all loose in some form or another.

Would you buy a tax free Porsche in HK?

Mrs B and I had an interesting day today - Its what I like to think a school day out would be if school days were ever fun. We went to the Porsche garage to look for my new car.

Now, I had decided that I wanted a 911 - But the Porsche salesman drove me (no pun intended) to the Cayman. This is a car only Satan would drive, I will explain;

Sales: You like the 911 sir?
Me: Yes I do.

Sales: 2 seats or 4?
Me: 2 is fine but the 911 has 4 - I care about reckless speed
Sales: 2 or 3 litre engine size?
Me: Whatever goes like I am on a one way trip to hell
Sales: If I may direct you to the Caymen...

At this point I will paraphrase for you dear readers. Porsche in essence decided that the 911 was not fast enough. So (as you do) they designed a faster version, but they had a problem. The 911 was just not the right car, so they went to hell, sold their German souls and came back with a race version with all the best bits of the 911. Now, to skip a lot of science you in essence end up with a mid range engine, 2 seat, seriously fast car.

Does the world need a faster Porsche in these days of global warming, road deaths and responsible husbands who drive Fords and keep to the speed limit?

Who cares, I want this car.

So back to the show room...

Me: (sitting in car making broom, broom noises, Mrs B not amused) I like this car
Sales: Its actually cheaper than the 911
Me: Sold.
Mrs B: (Do I even need to type the next bit? What are you new to this blog??) Ali, we need to talk about the car
Me: Talk about... how good it is? (try the puppy dog lost look, but this is going to be a tough sell, even for me this is breaking mew ground, and by the looks of Mrs B she is about to break my gear stick off)
Mrs B: No way are we getting this car.
Me: "Broom, broom..." (Like that is going to help)

1 hour and 10 minutes later over a coffee:

Me: Baby, how about you choose the colour?
Mrs B: We'll buy a mini, if you like that we can save up and get the Caymen
(Though I have to admit the topless version is so this season, but anyway back to the story)

Mrs B: Mini until you have the cash for the Caymen
Me: Really?
Mrs B: Yes.
Me: Really?

Me: Victory!

Now all I have to do is pass my Hong Kong driving test and find enough cash for a mini, oh yes, and save up $900,000 HK for the REAL car (is it wrong to want the racing trim and yellow brake discs? OK, a bit to metrosexual I know)

... But here is the best bit - I won't be paying any sales tax (this cuts 50% ff the price!) Thank you loyal British tax payers. No better than thank you, bless you I'm going to hell, but on the bright side I'm going to get there 3 times faster than you.