Ban Smoking in Public places

Posted by – April 5, 2014

As a consequence of the increased awareness to the havoc that smoking can do to people’s health, there is an increasing number of countries that have imposed a ban on smoke in public spaces.  This trend around the world is a positive development, which would provide ammunition to the implementation of smoke-free public areas globally.

Firstly, imposing laws that prohibit people from smoking in public can greatly increase public health, which in turn helps governments to maintain long-lasting economic growth. Smoking in public is the main cause of involuntary secondhand smoking, which does far more harm to people’s health. These negative impacts are particularly harmful to minors and those with respiratory problems, hampering economic growth. Thus, the way to reduce these health risks is for the authorities to restrict areas where smoking is allowed.

Another benefit of keeping smoking private is the discouragement of smoking in society. Such bans can reduce the visibility of cigarettes to the public. If no one was to smoke openly, there would be fewer people aware of cigarettes and, thus fewer people would start smoking. Moreover, banning it in public sends a message that smoking is not socially acceptable.

With these two main benefits of clamping down on public smoking, I strongly believe that we can create a non-smoking society, which can lead to a healthy and prosperous future for humankind.

One book a month

Posted by – April 11, 2015


The best way of refining yourself is learning from your mistakes; the second-best one is from somebody else’s mistakes. So from tomorrow, I will endeavour to read a book each month.

But why not reading blogs? Blogs are like McDonalds, which can be finished quickly without intense and heart-searching thought, whilst books are like 5 star fine dining restaurants, which require author’s deep reflection. Therefore, I am going to read a book every month from tomorrow. Start with

Thinking, Fast and Slow – by Daniel Kahneman


Fresh roasted coffee bean in Tokyo

Posted by – April 5, 2015

Where do I get my fresh coffee beans in Tokyo? The answer is that it’s not very easy if you don’t live in places where there are loads of coffee snobs like me. Most of the coffee beans you get from the coffee shops here only have the “best consumed before this date” tag on their package, from which you don’t know when the beans are roasted.

Having said that, you will find some cool café selling fresh roasted coffee beans in the trendy area like Harajuku and Shibuya. There is a place called “Rostery” between Shibuya and Harajuku, where you can find fresh roasted coffee beans on the same day. This cafe is spacious, and with its modern decoration, you can enjoy a coffee, cappuccino or latte with very comfort and relax atmosphere. There were staffs there tasting a line of coffee brewed from different beans when I visited there, making them really look like professionals.

Added to the in-house roaster, the lighting, the finishing, the wood interior and cozy terrace all create a fantastic atmosphere for café lovers.





the Naked Portalfilter

Posted by – March 29, 2015

My bottomless portafilter ordered from has finally arrived home this morning from Hungary! Over the last a few weeks, I have been trying to figure out the problems why I am not able to produce rich crema of my espresso. Now  I hope this is the tool for me to find out the problems, whether is dose or channeling or something else! At the moment, I suspect that uneven tamping which results in uneven extraction could have attributed to the lack of crema. But let’s see what I can observe from this tool.

I am all agog to see my perfect extraction with it! Please stay tuned with my extraction video.




This Hungarian company is quite an interesting one, of which the website featured a quite professional video promoting their bottomless portafilter. The video is somewhat reminiscent of Apple’s promotion videos for their Macbook. Take a look the video below see whether if you find it interesting.



(You can’t see this video from China, as Youtube is blocked in mainland China)

Fake pass-code from Ubuntu Bluetooth GUI

Posted by – March 27, 2015

Today, I bought a Bluetooth 4.0 dongle to connect my Logitech K760 keyboard. But I could not get it working with my Ubuntu system. Initially, I thought the Bluetooth adaptor does not support Ubuntu, as the product description says it only supports Windows… But lsusb shows the below output, which to me does not look like an OS issue.

xinquan@:~$ lsusb 
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 03f0:0324 Hewlett-Packard SK-2885 keyboard
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 007: ID 0b95:772a ASIX Electronics Corp. AX88772A Fast Ethernet
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 0a12:0001 Cambridge Silicon Radio, Ltd Bluetooth Dongle (HCI mode)

After attempting to connect via the Bluetooth GUI, it gave me a passcode to type in on my wireless keyboard, which I proceed to do. It immediately gave me this error: ‘Logitech K760 failed to connect’.


After some googling, it turns out that the passcode from the Bluetooth GUI was bogus, the correct passcode can be obtained from the command tool hcidump! Goshi… After I typed the passcode from hcidump, it connected successfully!

sudo apt-get install bluez-hcidump
sudo hcidump -at | grep -A 1 "User Passkey"

2015-03-27 11:29:29.787512 > HCI Event: User Passkey Notification (0x3b) plen 10
    bdaddr 00:1F:20:3E:53:A2 passkey 359872

Double quotes in SQL

Posted by – March 23, 2015

For an hour or so, I have been debugging an SQL error thrown by the PostgresSQL in my CakePHP application. The error message was also not really helpful. Below is the SQL generated by the CakePHP update function

UPDATE "public"."posts" SET "value" = asap WHERE id = (1) 

Undefined column: 7 ERROR: column "asap" does not exist LINE 1:

The culprit turns out to be that how quote is used to identify a string in SQL.
I have to explicitly put the single quote in the string value ‘asap’ in the CakePHP function below when updating a record of the Model Post.

The below is the signature of the updateAll function from CakePHP library.

public function updateAll($fields, $conditions);

The tricky part is you can’t quote strings in the conditions, but for the updating value of the fields, the string has to be single quoted.

       array('Post.value' =>  "'asap'" ),
       array('Post.key = ' => "when"));

A further discussion can be seen at the stackoverflow page

Cigarettes in Chinese wedding

Posted by – March 8, 2015

If you ask westerners, who have been to Chinese weddings, about their experiences, the feedbacks will probably be something like this

The wedding was great, except for the smoking!

Yet, smoking in a Chinese wedding in mainland China is still ubiquitous. Traditionally, although not sure from when, the bride is supposed to light up cigarettes for the elder guests and the groom makes the toast when they greet the guests. This cultural mores may be great for the smokers but can be horror experiences for non-smokers like me.

What’s more is that the children and women who do not smoke are not aware the harm of secondhand smoke in China, or they are inure to this environment,  like the heavily polluted air.

Over the last a few weeks, I have tried very hard to push and convince my parents to put off the cigarettes at my wedding reception in China, and I have encountered numerous obstacles.

“The guests will think you are penny-pinching”, “ungenerous”, one of my friends advised.

“Do in Rome as Rome does (入乡随俗)”, Another one of my relatives suggested.

However, it is my belief that this kind of social mores in China are not necessary to be followed. One day, hopefully, not far from now, people will recognise that tobacco is harmful and should not be part of social occasions and gift-giving.

An image from Shanghai government website

Nations who do not need visa entering China

Posted by – February 20, 2015

Last night, a friend of Sayaka who is currently working in China as an English teacher, complained the Chinese working visa process for foreigner is bloody cumbersome, and even getting a tourist visa is expensive.

I joshed a bit, “Getting a Japanese passport! They don’t need visa to go to China”. Then her jaw dropped! “Seriously? Are you kidding!”

I know I am not kidding. Oddly enough, the Chinese government opened up its gate to the tourist from the following countries without any inspections.

How to Get to my Home Town Jiaxing

Posted by – February 19, 2015

For those who are planning to visit my hometown and my wedding reception in China, I have provided some brief directions to get there.

First of all, there are two international airports in Shanghai – Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao Airport. While most of the international airlines land at Pudong airport, there are some flights, especially from Japan, which arrive at Hongqiao!

You should definitely choose the flightto arrive at Hongqiao, as it will cut your journey time to Jiaxing by quite a bit. Here is why – if you arrive Pudong Airport, you will have to take the subway (green line, line 2), from the first station to end of the line. It will be an hour journey for you jamming into a crowded subway, especially if it’s rush hour!

So get the flight to Hongqiaong airport!! Once you arrive at Hongqiao Airport, then you will only need to get out of the airport and take the subway (purple line) from the station called Hongqiao Airport Terminal 1 station. (please see the map below), to the station “Hongqiao Railway Station” – only 2 stations away and probably just 5-10 minutes!!


Hong Qiao Airport


After arriving “Hongqiao Railway Station”, Your breath will be taken away by station’s jaw-droppingly colossal waiting room.  Buy a train ticket bound to “Jiaxing Nan” (嘉兴南)- literal meaning “Jiaxing South Station”. Since the waiting room is enormous, make sure that you find the right gate to get on your train in advance.  I have attached a screenshot below with some exemplary trains going to “Jiaxing Nan”. Go with the train number starting with “G” or “D” as they are fast! If you can read Chinese, go to this website and you can search the trains and times and book it online.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 4.03.43 PM

Here is the link of a search result for your reference

The last train departs about at 21:30 PM, make sure you don’t miss that!  The party will be over  by that time anyway:)  Now get on the train. These trains should look like pseudo Shinkansei in Japan.  Believe me,  it will be very comfortable if you buy the “First Class seat”, which should costs around 10 $US.




train-attendant-in-chinaNow you have got on the train. you would probably go like “Hew…, finally I can relax!” and plug in your laptop and watch some movies.! Yes. It is probably more developed than you thought China would be – every seat is equipped with power for your laptop if you choose a first class seat(一等座), and the girls will be prettier than the second class carriage, I hope. However, don’t relax for too long until you forget about the time. It should only take 25-35 minutes to arrive at the station you want to get off depending on the train you choose. The train stops very briefly at Jiaxing, 2 minutes or so. So please make sure don’t miss the station, because the next stop will be at a great distance away from Jiaxing, and you will cry if you miss it! So my advice is that you prick up your ears to hear the Chinese word “嘉兴南到了”(Jiaxing Nan Dao Le), meaning the train is approaching Jiaxing South station. The train may now have English announcement,  but it’s always safer to be prepared before your trip is cruelled.

There will be a plethora of taxis awaiting at the exit of the station after you get off the train. Show the taxi drivers the paper with the address of the hotel you reserved or the address of the hotel where my reception will be held, if you plan to stay there. It should cost around 15 – 20 RMB (Chinese Yuan) to go from the station to the reception hotel by taxi. If you are really bogged down, you can always call the landphone of my home for help, which I will share with you privately. We will sally forth and rescue you. If you come after April 15th., I can arrange people to pick you up at the station.

Other things that you need to be aware of is that, you will need to use Baidu Maps instead of Google Maps to get around. Click here to find out why you would prefer to use Baidu ditu over Google Maps in China.

In terms of Internet, China is a kingdom isolated from the rest of the world. Every major internet services such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Ebay and YouTube have their Chinese version for good and bad reasons :) Let’s not discuss it here! Shall we? We can talk about it and you can complain to me when we meet in Jiaxing. Ergo, do fully utilise these Chinese alternatives to aid or entertain yourself such as Tudou, weixing or baidu when you are shielded by the Great gigantic firewall offered by Beijing.

Finally, this the address of the hotel where the reception will be held on the evening of April. 18th.

Location: Morgan Hotel (嘉兴摩根大饭店),  Address: 浙江嘉兴南湖区 广益路509号 ,近双溪路。

Tel: +86 0573 8369 9999

You may wonder why I don’t write the above address in English. Let me tell you why, – holding a piece of paper with a Chinese address written in English won’t help you much to get anywhere in China. So My advice for you is to write it down in Chinese or take a screenshot with your smart phone – making sure that your smart device has its battery in that case, and show them to the people around you.

If you still have questions? Please leave a comment below or send me a private message


Survival Phrases you may want to know

  • A first Class Ticket to Jiaxing (一张到嘉兴的一等座车票)
  • I want to go to HongQiao Train Station(我想去虹桥火车站)
  • I want to go to Jiaxing Morgan Hotel(我想去嘉兴摩根大饭店)

The culprit – three holes tip

Posted by – February 4, 2015

After sifting through dozens of YouTube videos online about how to froth the milk with the default three-holes tip steam wand of La Pavoni, I gave up using the pre-installed steam tip and purchased a one hole tip from eBay as some people suggested on the home barista forum.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.03.19 PM

voilà, with this new one hole tip, I finally be able to steam the milk with the desired microfoam result, which is nicely float on top of the coffee (see picture below), and which is essential to make latte art. With the original three-holes tip, steam came out with three different directions, and it was very difficult to get the milk swirling. Next step is to how to make a rich microfoam.

Why people prefer use Baidu Ditu over Google Map

Posted by – January 19, 2015

China is the only land on the planet that the Google Empire has not yet conquered and take control of its burgeoning hundreds of millions of internet users. The map service Google provided has been popular around the world over decades, however, it is simpler just not as good as the Baidu in China. here is the comparison of the maps around the airport in Shanghai.

Google Maps:




Baidu Map