The Thing You Want to Know About Chinese Science
Posted 16 June 2011 - 04:36 AM
Rhubarb is a very old plant. Its medicinal uses and horticulture have been recorded in history since ancient China.
Earliest records date back to 2700 BC in China where Rhubarb was cultivated for medicinal purposes (its purgative qualities). According to Lindley's Treasury of Botany, the technical name of the genus (Rheum) is said to be derived from Rha, the ancient name of the Volga, on whose banks the plants grow. There were those who called it Rha Ponticum, and others Rheum or Rha-barbarum. Others derive the name from the Greek rheo ('to flow'), in allusion to the purgative properties of the root. One of the most famous pharmacologists of ancient times the Greek Discorides, spoke of a root known as "rha" or "rheon", which came from the Bosphorus (the winding strait that separates Europe and Asia).
The following comes from Bjorn Kjellgren, Dept. of Chinese studies, University of Stockholm, Sweden: "You might be interested in the following from the 25 Dynastic Histories, ershiwu shi (the collected official histories of the emperial dynasties):
Rhubarb is given to the Wu emperor of the Liang dynasty (reign: 557-579) to cure his fever but only after warning him that rhubarb, being a most potent drug, must be taken with great moderation.
Rhubarb was transported to the throne as tributes from the southern parts of China during the Tang dynasty (618-907).
During the Song dynasty (960-1127) the rhubarb is taken in times of plague.
During the Yuan dynasty (1115-1234) a Christian sentenced to a hard punishment is pardoned after using previously collected rhubarb to heal some soldiers.
During the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) a Ming-general tries (in vain) to commit suicide by eating rhubarb medicine.
The Guangzong emperor (1620-1621) is miraculously cured from some severe illness he got after having had a joyful time with four "beautiful women" sent to him by a high official, cured with rhubarb, naturally.
1759 the Qianlong emperor of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) forbids export of tea and rhubarb to the Russians after a border conflict in the north part of China.
In 1790 the same emperor declares that the Western countries will have to do without rhubarb.
In 1828 the Daoguang-emperor sends out an edict to the effect that no more tea and rhubarb must now be sold to the "barbarians".
The imperial commissioner, Lin Zexu, who was sent to Canton in 1839 to put an end to the opium trade wrote a letter to Queen Victoria pointing to the "fact" that the foreign barbarians surely would die if they could not obtain tea and rhubarb from China and that the Queen for this reason should stop the wicked British merchants from trading with opium. Victoria seems never to have had the letter translated and read for her and when Lin Zexu later the same year wrote to the British merchants in Canton telling them that a stop to the rhubarb trade would mean the death for the pitiful foreigners, the pitiful foreigners responded with canon boats. Should maybe the Opium War really be called the Rhubarb War?
It is now a well established fact that although various types of rhubarb grow in different parts of the world (Altay, Siberia, the Himalayas, Tibet and Mongollia), true rhubarb, that is to say the kind which offers such very special active elements (the purgative elements!), is the Chinese variety (Rheum palmatum?), which is only to be found growing in Ama Surga and Dsun-molun, in the mountainous regions of Kansu province.
Marco Polo, who knew all about the Chinese rhubarb rhizome, talked about it at length in the accounts of his travels in China. So much interest on the past of Marco Polo is accounted for by the fact that in those days Venice was an extremely important trading center, and that as a result of eastern Arabic influence, Chinese rhubarb was already widely used in European pharmacy, especially in the school of Salerno. The roots of the Chinese type are still used in medicine. A planting of rhubarb is recorded in Italy in 1608 and 20-30 years later in Europe. In 1778 rhubarb is recorded as a food plant in Europe. The earliest known usage of rhubarb as a food appeared as a filling for tarts & pies. Some suspect that this was a hybrid of the Chinese variety of rhubarb.
About 1777, Hayward, an apothecary, of Banbury, in Oxfordshire, commenced the cultivation of rhubarb with plants of R. Rhaponticum, raised from seeds sent from Russia in 1762, and produced a drug of excellent quality, which used to be sold as the genuine Rhubarb, by men dressed up as Turks. When Hayward died, he left his rhubarb plantations to the ancestor of the present cultivators of the rhubarb fields at Banbury, where R. officinale is also now cultivated, from specimens first introduced into this country in 1873. Both R. Rhaponticum and R. officinale are at the present time grown, not only in Oxfordshire but also in Bedfordshire. Although specimens of R. palmatum were raised from seed as early as 1764, in the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, it is not grown now in this country for medicinal purposes, experiments having shown that it is the least easily cultivated of the rhubarbs, the main root in this climate being liable to rot. R. officinale and R. Emodi have to some extent been grown also as an ornamental plant, being also quite hardy and readily propagated.
Posted 17 June 2011 - 10:35 AM
One of the first popular uses of the so-called mini-computers of the 1970s was word-processing. That created a demand for faster printers. In 1969 David S. Lee and his small engineering team at Diablo Systems developed the first efficient daisywheel printer. It represented a quantum speed leap over existing printers which were still using typewriter mechanisms.
When Diablo Systems was sold to Xerox in 1972, Lee was replaced as head of the printer group by a less capable engineer. Unhappy with such blatant racial bias, Lee left a year later to co-found Qume. Under Lee's technical leadership Qume established itself as the industry leader. When Lee and partners sold it in 1978 for $165 million, investors earned a 93-fold return on their original investments. Qume owns the distinction of being the first Silicon Valley company to be sold for over $100 million. ?
In 1981 Lee became the first Asian American to enter the corporate suite of one of America's top-5 corporations when he was named president of ITT Qume and chairman of ITT's business information systems group. After ITT sold its computing division to Alcatel in 1978, Lee left to start a series of tech companies.
David Lee was born in Beijing. His family moved to Hong Kong and Taiwan before settling in Argentina. He came to the U.S. on a student visa to study mechanical engineering at Montana State University. He got his masters at North Dakota State and PhD at Ohio State University. His pioneering success combined with a genial personality and big rubber smile made Lee a leading light in the Silicon Valley Asian community. Since the 1990s he has been influential in Republican presidential politics. He was named to the board of the regent of the University of California in 1995.
Posted 17 June 2011 - 10:42 AM
In the late 1970s when computer chips were still being made by attaching thousands of tiny transistors onto small squares of silicon wafers, David Lam saw the potential to use experimental plasma-etching techniques to cut thousands of micron-sized switches directly onto wafers. With a bit of seed money from his mother, he launched Lam Research in 1979. It took two more years to raise venture capital, build a prototype etching machine and make the company's first sale.
Before long Lam Research was selling equipment to semiconductor companies like National Semi, Toshiba, Hitachi and AMD. It also sold to companies offering wafer fabrication services to innovative startups with bright ideas but without the capital to buy costly equipment. Lam Research stayed at the forefront of the plasma-etching technology, making it possible for chipmakers to pack more data onto smaller squares of wafer, spurring the development of small, powerful, economical personal computers.
Today Lam Research remains a leader in the semiconductor processing equipment industry, with sales of around a billion dollars a year. In addition to plasma etch machines, Lam makes chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) systems to polish wafers and post-CMP cleaning equipment to keep microscopic dust from ruining processed wafers.
David Lam was born in South Vietnam near the end of World War II. His parents moved the family to Hong Kong as he began junior high. He immigrated to the U.S. to attend a small college but ended up getting a masters and PhD from MIT.
Posted 18 June 2011 - 09:55 AM
Albert Y. C. Yu joined Intel 30 years ago and quickly established himself as the mastermind of the company's microprocessor architecture. By the time he retired in September 2002 from his post as Intel's chief technology boss for all microprocessor R&D, he had become the tech czar for the company's rise to global chipmaking dominance. Yu strategized the creation of six generations of microprocessors, from the 80386 all the way to the latest Pentium 4 which has become the world's highest volume chip. He also led the teams that developed the ItaniumT processor family for the business server market.
Yu's status as a Silicon Valley legend keeps his shiny dome ("I'm bald and unique," he has boasted as his primary distinctions.) very much in the spotlight. He sits on prestigious boards at Berkeley, Stanford and Harvard as well as the Tech Museum in San Jose. In addition to nearly three dozen technical works, he authored a Chinese-language best-seller entitled Insider's View of Intel and Creating the Digital Future (The Free Press, 1998).
Albert Y. C. Yu was born in 1941 in Shanghai, China. He came to the U.S. to study electrical engineering at Cal Tech where he got his B.S. His first paying job was soldering cables for high-energy physics experiments during his sophomore year. He went on to receive a masters and PhD from Stanford before working at Fairchild Semiconductor, the company founded in part by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce who, in July of 1968, would leave to found Intel. Yu joined the company in 1972. Yu enjoys tennis, swimming, hiking and fooling around with his PC. His only regret is not having forced his two kids to learn to speak at least one Chinese dialect.
Posted 18 June 2011 - 10:00 AM
Bill Mow became the first Asian American to start a company specifically to serve the anticipated boom in large-scale integrated circuits -- primitive computer chips -- when he launched Macrodata in 1969. As an electrical engineer in the missile guidance division of Litton Industries, Mow had seen the need for equipment to measure the speed of complex circuitry down to a billionth of a second. At his new company Mow joined five to ten thousand transistors to build equipment to test logic chips, random access memory (RAM) and microprocessors. Credited with midwifing the birth of computer chip technology, Mow's machine is on display at the German museum of Technology in Munich. By the early 1970s Macrodata was selling equipment to 48 of the top 50 U.S. computer companies. Two of its biggest customers were IBM and NEC. Mow recalls a young jeans-clad Steve Jobs begging him to be allowed to buy equipment on credit.
Mow was pegged as a brilliant engineer but a poor manager. After buying up a controlling interest in Macrodata in 1976, Cutler-Hammer exiled Mow and his secretary to a remote office and replaced him with a professional manager. Mow sought revenge through litigation and by starting Bugle Boy, a young men's sportswear company that lucked into the parachute-pants craze and became an industry sensation. By the late 1980s Mow achieved with Bugle Boy something that eluded him with Macrodata: becoming one of America's 400 wealthiest people. Bugle Boy went into decline a decade later but Mow's story remains one of the most inspiring of the Asian American rags-to-riches story.
Bill Mow was born in Hangchow, China in 1937. His father was a Nationalist general and diplomat who fell out of favor with Chiang's government several years after the family moved to the U.S. After attending the Riverside School, Mow graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1959 and married the same year. He got his PdD from Purdue University in 1967 and worked at Litton Industries before leaving in 1969 to start Macrodata.
Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:41 PM
In a sense, it sort of confirms to what I think regarding Chinese manufacturing. That it's more than just labor costs or prices of materials and equipment. There is some innovation over there. The Chinese engineers and other technicians added their own ideas. If not, the original designs would not just cost more but also pollute more than what it is today. Also, the technology used to make products in the prototype/developmental stage is different than on the commercial scale.
A lot of the heated debates and discussions you all hear in the media regarding Chinese manufacturing is actually more about assembling products rather than making them. Many parts are still made outside of China, the companies send them there to be put together. The US, Japan and other developed nations still have a significant manufacturing base. Most of the jobs that were lost were only partly due to labor and material costs, but more so due to bad management and newer tools plus procedures that didn't need as many people as before. Assembling and manufacturing are different things, so sometimes the public can be confused between the two.
Prices and the value of different currencies still matter, but my main point is that there's more to these matters than just that.
Edited by Gan, 06 July 2011 - 11:47 PM.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 10:13 AM
NINGBO, Zhejiang - Chinese scientists have sequenced the complete genome of the white goose - a first for the world - which was likely to benefit research into poultry breeding, anti-epidemic and bird domestication. Researchers from Zhejiang Provincial Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhedong White Goose Institute in Xiangshan County of Zhejiang Province and Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) mapped the complete genome sequence of the Zhedong white goose after two years of efforts.
Zhedong white goose is known for its fast early-stage growth rate. The complete sequencing of the Zhedong white goose genome lays a solid and theoretical foundation for understanding the growth performance, meat quality and biological breeding rules of the goose at the DNA level, and plays an important role in the selective breeding of high-quality varieties and improving reproduction.
Posted 09 August 2011 - 10:00 AM
An inventive Chinese farmer has created plastic glasses for his chickens to wear to stop them from fighting amongst themselves. Zhang Xiaolong managed to pacify his roosters after wearing them plastic blinkers, which prevent them from seeing straight ahead. While they aren’t completely blind, the chickens have a difficult time seeing straight ahead, making direct confrontation with other chickens a comparatively difficult task.
The farmer, who lives in China’s Fujian Province said he was losing ten birds a day to aggressive roosters. “I was inspired by my own glasses and thought if I could just block their view so they can’t see each other directly, they wouldn’t have fights.” “It has worked really well. They can’t attack each other so confrontations have been minimized,” he said.
Posted 12 August 2011 - 07:26 AM
With New Method, China Can Mass-Produce Light Water For Its Citizens' Thirst. In an effort to produce mass quantities of healthier H2O, Chinese scientists have come up with a new method to change water’s chemical composition. It involves making light water.
Natural water has tiny amounts of D2O molecules, deuterium and oxygen, mixed in with the dihydrogen monoxide. Deuterium, also called heavy hydrogen, is an isotope of hydrogen that contains one proton and one neutron. In North America, typical drinking water has a deuterium concentration of about 150 ppm, roughly equivalent to a few drops per every quart.
Water with higher concentrations of D2O is known as heavy water, and it is harmful to plants and animals. By contrast, water with hardly any D2O — or light water — can boost the immune system and benefit plant and animal health, according to several studies. In one study from 2003, plant photosynthesis increased with the use of light water. A study involving mice blasted with ionizing radiation showed a dramatic difference in survival between mice that drank light water and mice that drank regular water. It is even used as a cancer treatment for humans.
Posted 13 August 2011 - 06:43 AM
Scientists from the University of Shanghai have developed a new type of waterproof cotton fabric that remains waterproof after more than 250 washing procedures.
Today most existing waterproof fabrics lose their super-hydrophobic properties after one or two washings, resulting in their being uncomfortable when worn, because they no longer allow air to flow through the material. But China has created a new material, which according to developers, is not affected by these problems.
It looks almost identical to cotton, while it is completely impervious to water, but air can pass through it, and these properties are retained even after multiple washings. This New fabric was created by the use of commercially available fluorinated acrylate monomers with tufts of cotton, irradiated with gamma rays in a chemical compound to produce polymerization.
In this process the cotton forms covalent bonds with the polymers, and the polymer then is not just a coating. It prevents the adherence of particles of water to cotton, so that water can not pass through the material, simply the water slides down and leaves the fabric dry and clean.
The Institute of Applied Physics, Shanghai University, said that the polymer additive to the polymers and subsequent radiation treatment leaves a small hole in the fabric through which air passes freely. This allows the fabric to be breathable and flexible, which is convenient for the wearer of the garment. Researchers’ report that they have tested their design, in practice they repeatedly washed it in a standard washing machine with the usual powder at a temperature of 40 degrees and no deterioration of the properties have been found.
Posted 14 August 2011 - 07:18 PM
China has been developing their own CPU chip since 2002 for the primary purpose of getting untied to US companies like Intel and AMD and MicroSoft. Their Loongson2 CPU is not a clone of an x86 based chip but a MIPS compatible chip and will run an Open Source based O/S. "Enter the first non-i386, Debian GNU/Linux mini laptop - and the first mini laptop that doesn't target children or the general audience, but users(students, hobbyists, professionals) specifically looking for a Linux system. Not only is the Lemote Yeeloong incompatible with i386, it is part of a larger Chinese effort to produce an independent range of processors, for which no license fees have to be paid to major American, Japanese or other foreign cpu designers such as Intel. In other words, this is more than just a consumer device - it's part of something bigger."
"The Lemote Yeeloong mini laptop is just one of a range of Lemote computers equipped with the energy-efficient Loongson2 cpu. A MIPS-compatible cpu(MIPS following RISC principles, if I understood it correctly, like ARM, PowerPC, SPARC do, among others) clocked at 797 MHz; which can be clocked down by the operating system to 199, 298, 398, 498, and 597 MHz."
Posted 14 August 2011 - 07:23 PM
China's first tunnel boring robot has just passed an expertise appraisal in this capital of central China's Hunan Province. The robot was evaluated as being on par with internationally advanced level, and is expected to put an end to China's dependence on importing tunnel-cutting intelligent equipment.
The robot, with a maximum working interface of 90 square meters, has two gigantic "iron arms" installed with a six-meter drill-bits on both sides. It can automatically process data on the working interface and dig holes for putting explosives in.
Listed as one of the state's denominated high-tech projects, the invention was undertaken by experts at the Central-South China University. The robot can be deployed for work on railways and road laying and mining exploration. He Qinghua, a professor at the university and a member of the high-tech project, said that the robot's control system was developed with Chinese software. Its sensor and anti-jamming abilities are on par with its foreign competitors.
A piece of imported rock-drilling equipment usually costs at least 12 million yuan and its affiliated devices are also expensive. The domestic product is expected to reduce the construction cost by one million yuan per 1,000 meters of drilling.
Posted 25 August 2011 - 09:21 AM
Alpha geeks are rare, but alpha geeks with good track records as entrepreneurs are even rarer. James Seng is one of the internet pioneers in Singapore and have a successful record of several interesting internet companies and projects, for example, i-DNS.net, TechNet, PoBox (a web-based email and forwarding service used by SPH), Heroes of the Lance (a multi-player online game) and last but not least, Tomorrow.SG (an aggregator for the Singapore blogosphere). We are honoured to have him to share with his thoughts about the evolution of the IT industry dated back from the 1990s to now, his journey as an entrepreneur and finally his frank and insightful opinions about the web 2.0, business ideas and open source movement in Singapore.
BL: Hi James, thank you for accepting the interview at SG Entrepreneurs. We understand that you are one of the early internet pioneers in Singapore. Can you tell us more about what your background and what you are currently doing?
James Seng: I started (self-taught) programming when I was 8 years old. Since as a kid, I knew computer is what I want to do with my life. The first network I played with is Fidonet (a BBS network) and I started on Internet in 1993 when I entered National University of Singapore.
A young biochemistry professor, Dr. Tan Tin Wee, found me spending a lot time in the computer lab (as he does) so we started talking. Soon Dr. Tan asked me to help him in his new assignment as Head of Technet, the first and only ISP for University and R&D centers in Singapore.
Then it is a nearly a decade of wonderful years doing all projects after projects on Internet at Technet and subsequently at Internet Research and Development Unit, doing localization (first Chinese web), PostOne (first web-based Email), InfoMap (www.sg) etc.
My research work on Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) catch attention of VCs so with 24m USD investment, I went on to do a stint as the CTO of a dotcom start-up. Beside the typical business issues of running a company across multiple countries, I was doing hardcore engineering like doing standardization of IDNs as the co-chair of the IDN Working Group at IETF to softer political stuff like evangelizing and talking about IDNs at ICANN, ITU and other Internet Governance forum.
After the dotcom burst, I joined IDA as Assistant Director of Next Generation Internet and then did more stuff relating to Internet (Anti-Spam and IP Telephony to name two) and Open Source among other things.
Currently, I am doing technology and investment advisory work.
BL: In your early career, you started your career from Technet, which subsequently became Pacific Internet with a post-IPO market cap of $1B USD on Nasdaq in 1999. How was the internet market different from now? What are the major changes that has happened in the internet industry in Singapore?
James Seng: While I was one of the early adopters of Internet in Singapore, I wasn’t the pioneer batch. The folks before me include Tommy Chen and Lim Hock Koon and those working with them are the ones who brings Internet to Singapore in 1989.
That said, the industry has change a lot over the years.
When I started in 1993, you cannot join Internet unless your company is doing R&D or you are in an education institution. Most people accessing Internet are using text-based console (kermit) and the biggest thing back then was Email and Usenet. WWW appears in late 1993 but didn’t took off until Moasic come into the scene in 1994. Even then, most cannot use Mosaic until PPP was invented.
The early days was all about building infrastructure and building core technology just to use Internet.
By 1996, the focus shifted to the new hot thing called Web and everyone is doing something relating to it, be it selling toys, pet food, secondhand goods etc etc. Portal was hot for a while then it gives way to services. It was the time of innovation and many made a lot of money but even more failed and never to be heard again.
In 2002, the dotcom crashed and wipe out all those who are either unfortunate or with just bad business model. I remember visiting friends in the silicon valley then and no one talks about starting any company and everyone looking for a job or wondering how to raise money. It was a time when friends offered to sell their company for a dollar. Oh, the hottest thing then was Napster and there were whispers of people doing peer-to-peer to download not just music but *gasp* also video.
Yet despite the dotcom crash, the Internet adoption has never slowed down. The Internet users constantly growing even though stock market tanks and companies are dying. And we hit our 1st billion Internet user somewhere during christmas 2005.
We are now back in this period of time where there are massive innovations (thanks to the investment in Web 2.0) and plenty of companies forming. If history is a guide, some of these new companies would make a lot of money but most will just burn and crash. But yes, this is the time to do something.
BL: As a founder of a company and CTO of the company i-DNS.net, what made you decide to start up? What are the initial challenges and difficulties you face as an entrepreneur?
James Seng: We wanted to change the world.
Before IDNs, domain names is strictly alphanumeric and dashes only. Dr. Tan keep asking why we cannot have non-English characters in domain names. There would be a huge digital divide in Asia (such as China, Japan and Korea) if English is a pre-requisite to use Internet. Not everyone learn English as early as we do in Singapore.
So we wanted to change it.
When we started, everyone said it cannot be done. So we ignored them and we developed the basic technology as a proof of concept. Then we brought that technology and did a trial across Asia-Pacific including China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.
We brought it to Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and that went crazy. I remember folks coming to me to shake my hand and asked me to be brave or just telling me I am crazy. We got our working group eventually. Then we spend a lot of time in various Internet forums educating policy makers and government people on IDNs and bring awareness to it.
So even though i-DNS.net, the company did not make it, the idea of what we set out to do succeeded. Today, IDN is an Internet Standard (RFC 3490) and you can now register non-English domain names under .com, .cn, .jp, .kr, .sg to name a few, based on the work we done on those few years.
BL: Eventually, i-DNS.net managed to expand its presence world-wide with offices in over 7 countries. How difficult is it to bring your company overseas?
James Seng: We were lucky in that fund raising was not too much a problem for us. We have a wonderful storyline. Sadly, the wonderful storyline is also the biggest problem because it creates a lot of hype. And when hypes dies and reality set in, customers wasn’t too happy.
The other challenges we had is people. We expanded too fast so we brought in the wrong kind of people in the company, without thinking if the people fit into the company culture we want to build. And we didn’t fire fast enough when we realized we got the wrong people.
BL: As a geek contributing to the Open Source movement as a hobby, what are your thoughts about the open source industry in Singapore?
James Seng: Not too difficult for us as everyone is eager to work with us.
The problem we have then is finding the right and trustworthy local people to work with. Particularly “trustworthy” is a very expensive lesson. The moment we step out of Singapore, business and deals are done totally differently especially in this part of the world.
There are some small companies trying to do open source and many individuals (folks like Harish Pillay) who work for many years to promote open source in Singapore. There are also contributors from Singapore back to the open source community.
But open source as an industry is almost non-existence in Singapore.
Many blame the government for that, saying that the government is not responsive to accepting open source solution. That is a half-truth because there are project using open soruce and there are projects that don’t.
But more importantly, this behavior is something we see across the whole Singapore, not just the Singapore government. I have a friend who runs a mid-size SI company across the region. He see clients asking for open source solutions all the time, be it China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia but surprisingly little from the local Singapore companies. In fact, his largest open source customers in Singapore is some of the government Ministry.
I think Singapore embrace IT very early so we are a victim of our own success. We are at a stage where we want stability and consistency and thus less likely to take on additional technical risks to use open source solution.
BL: You have recently written about Singapore’s readiness towards web 2.0, lamenting that we are short of talent in the technological aspect. Do you have any thoughts on how we can help to increase the pool of technological talent for this new frontier?
James Seng: Singapore is an island of 4m people. The number of geeks produce per year is therefore limited. Every in batch computer science/engineering graduates, I would be surprised to find more than a handful of alpha-geeks.
So like it or not, Singapore has to use foreign talents. The question is how to position Singapore to be an attractive place to start your next big Web 2.0 company.
BL: If a young entrepreneur wants to do a startup, what are the three most important lessons that you will preach to him?
James Seng: If anyone asked for my advice on his idea for a startup, regardless how bad the idea is, my word is always the same: Just do it. You learn a lot from doing bad startup then not doing at all. Even for the best startups, entrepreneurs always have naysayers from their friends and relatives.
Second, get a partner. Find a partner who compliments your capability. You are either strong in technical or strong in business or marketing or internal operation but not all of them.
Third, hire slowly, fire quickly. Hire slowly because in the initial stage when your startup is new, the corporate culture isn’t set, you want to bring in the people not just with the right capability but also the right mindset and work attitude. And when the person obviously doesn’t match, fire quickly. Don’t hesitate. This is my greatest mistake.
BL: As an entrepreneur who has managed to raise $24M USD investments from General Altantic Partners and Network Solutions/Verisign for your own startup, what are the traits that investors look for in a startup company?
1. The Idea – the story must make sense and viable. Different investors have different ideas of what appeal to them. If one investor obviously dont buy your idea, dont waste your and their time. Move on and look for another investor.
2. The Team – the best idea without the right execution team is useless. Put together a strong team that covers all aspect of the business: technology, business strategy, marketing, operation and financial.
3. The Returns – investors give you money so you make more money for them. Show them how you going to make them money, esp. the exit strategy.
4. Homework – your knowledge on the industry. Do you know your competitors? whats their strength & weakness? how are you position differently from others? Investors often do broad scanning across multiple industry so their knowledge is not deep. If they knows more than you do, then it is a bad sign.
BL: Finally, you have recently started a small section in your blog about business ideas. What do you think constitute as a good business idea?
James Seng: There is no bad business idea.
A bad business idea rehash from a decade ago may be the brilliant business model in this decade.
For example, a business idea to “to build the largest global search engine encompassing all human knowledge” is sound like science fiction in the 70s. Today, Google is a billion dollar business.
BL: James, thank you once again for this interview, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
Posted 21 September 2011 - 01:44 AM
The voyage led by Tzu Fu that left China in 219 BC resulted in the establishment of a Chinese colony in Mexico. A new artistic style – the Izapan style – emerged in southern Mexico in the period 300-100 BC, characterized by an abundance of intricate, Chinese-looking scrollwork. Gunnar Thompson reports that a remarkable concentration of ancient Chinese-Taoist symbolism has been found in this region, along with Chinese Kangi writing, Chinese ceramic toys and headrests, Chinese pottery, Chinese jade coins, and sculpted faces of Chinese mariners. Genetic research has revealed a high concentration of Chinese genetic traits among the indigenous population in this area.1
Izapa stela 5 – the Festival Monument – is a 1.5-ton slab of andesite carved with metal tools, which has been assigned a date of 300-400 BC. It depicts more than a dozen symbols and motifs that are distinctly Asian. Patrick Huyghe writes:
There is a Taoist teacher with his pointed hat, a Taoist pupil, two fishes (which represented matrimonial harmony in China), the serpent/turtle motif, the rain cloud symbol, a plumed bird with life-force scrolls, a chinless deity with scroll-shaped eyes, a roaring tiger, a parasol, a sacred Buddhist ceiba tree, a peaked scroll cloud, a yin-yang symbol, and the power of heaven motif.
Izapa stela 5 – the Festival Monument:
The 'power of heaven' symbol, as found in China and Mexico:
Yin-yang symbols from China and Mexico:
A lunar calendar was introduced in Mesoamerica which, like the Chinese calendar, began in about 3000 BC, more than 2000 years before the Mayan civilization officially began. The Mayan eclipse table in the Dresden Codex is identical to a table that Chinese astronomers produced during the Han dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD). Both tables contained the same errors: they predicted 23 eclipses within a 135-month period, whereas only 18 occur.
Ceramic figure from Uxmal, Mexico, 400 BC. It shows an ancient mariner
with a characteristic Chinese beard and lion dog on the right shoulder:
Flat-bottomed, cylindrical tripod vessels with square moulded legs, horizontal decorations, and conical lids topped with birds or ringed knobs were found at Teotihuacán, Mexico, and dated to the 3rd century AD. These vessels are unrelated to other common pottery shapes used in Mesoamerica at the time, but are highly reminiscent of the ceramic, metal, and lacquer cylindrical tripod vessels of Han China.7
The Buddhist missionary who claimed to have returned from a trip to Fu Sang in 498 AD said he had visited a country 20,000 li (about 6000 miles) to the east of Siberia. That would place it in vicinity of Mexico. He mentioned that the merchants there did not have to pay tax – which was true of Mayan merchants. He also spoke of seeing horses and waggons, which is used to dismiss his account as fiction. But there are native traditions, reports by pre-Columbian visitors, and other pieces of evidence that point to horses being present in the Americas before the arrival of the Spaniards.
Edited by vinceliang, 04 October 2011 - 06:43 AM.
Posted 04 October 2011 - 07:12 AM
Researchers can extend cell phone battery life by improving its idling mode, promising longer-lasting conversations and prolonged mobile Web surfing in the future.Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening technology, or E-MiLi, keeps a phone from searching for Wi-Fi signals while idling in "subconscious mode," as well as helps handsets wake up more easily when important info comes in.
The technology, invented by University of Michigan professor Kang Shin and her student Xinyu Zhang, reduces the speed of a phone's wireless card, which searches for radio signals even while in "subconscious mode," to 1/16th of its normal operating speed unless it senses incoming data. The slowdown extends cell phone battery life by up to 54 percent.
Subconscious mode is easy to induce, says Shin, but it's difficult to wake the phone up again. Shin's solution addresses both issues in a tandem solution. "Usually, messages come with a header, and we thought the phone could be enabled to detect this, as you can recognize that someone is calling your name even if you're 90 percent asleep," Shin said.
Shin's processor-slowing software could save hours of cell phone battery life, giving users more time to talk, text and access the Internet on the go. The technology is necessary, now that power-hungry smartphones and sophisticated apps are increasingly popular, taxing phones' processor power and draining batteries faster. Shin isn't the only one trying to strengthen mobile battery power. South Korean researchers invented technology to turn the vibrations of speech into electricity, which allows phones to charge batteries while talking into them.
Scientists also demonstrated a transparent screen coating that captures solar energy to trickle-charge a smartphone, which could be commercialized within a year. The University of Michigan is applying to patent Shin's technology and plans to license it to Wi-Fi chipmakers soon. Science Daily says chip manufacturers who want to build the technology for Android and iOS will also need to adopt Shin's solution to wake up E-MiLi-enabled phones.
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