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回来普纳的经历 Returning to Pune

It has been almost three years since I last set foot in this buzzing second tier city of Pune. It was here that Anthony and I decided to settle, and stay, back in 2008 after we left university. Back then, we knew no one here and little about life, business or India. In two years we had started two companies, one of which now employs more than fifty people, SapnaSolutions. Now, after more than two months on the road, from lowland to highland and down again, across the himalayas, from China to India, we return to where it all started for me in Asia, Pune.

Eight regional jets are parked at Pune airport when we arrive, a far cry from the one or two daily flights in my time here. It is our first reminder that this town of 5 million is one of the fastest developing in India. A quick auto ride past familiar sites and we arrive at Koregoan Park, the trendy area Anthony and I never managed to find the budget to live in back in 2008. We are touched by the warmth of Yann and Anna’s reception and hospitality, and though it has been a number of years since we all saw each other last, a common bond exists, one only fellow entrepreneurs who’ve worked through difficult times together share. As we settle into our air conditioned room, I dream of times past. I had never before slept with AC in Pune.

20120620-140357.jpgSapnaSolutions has grown. When I left we had a maximum of twenty staff. Two office moves later I stand humbled at the entrance of their huge new office, housing over fifty eager employees, including many from Europe, both interning and full time. Three or four employees whom I helped hire remain firm, after three years of startup madness. Big smiles and warm handshakes with characteristicly Indian enthusiasm – it is good to be back.

20120620-140202.jpgThe familiar sound of a rickshaws noisy two stroke engine firing into life, and I’m off across town to see Shardul, an old friend and one of our first employees way back in 2008. Familiar sites and smells whizz past, evoking old memories and powerful emotions, but both Pune and I have changed. Shiny new buildings are everywhere, particularly noticeable is the flurry of high end hotels which have appeared all over the city. No longer is Le Meridian the only place for a good breakfast. Change in more subtle form can be found in old streets fast turning upmarket, cool. Where once there were run down stores and dark shuttered windows, trendy cafes and shops have appeared, businesses that used to be limited to small pockets of the city, now unleashed across countless upchanging neighbourhoods. My rickshaw driver suddenly turns to me at a junction as I am using my phone to capture the scene. ‘How much, your phone? 20,000?’
‘No’, I reply, embarrassed to tell him the truth is closer to double that. He continues:
‘Camera is how many megapixels?’
Stunned by the questionI tell him the truth, ‘Eight’.
‘Very good’, he waggles his head in approval, pulling away from the light with the rush of traffic. Such an exchange would have been unimaginable, certainly in English, just a few years back.
Even the traffic too has changed. Yann tells me an explosion in car purchases by middle class families in the past two years has replaced many of the cities infamous hordes of bikes. While quieter and arguably less polluting, the city continues to suffer ever worse congestion. Nevertheless, even the municipality has had its share of the change, with noticably more efficient road systems. Everything it seems, from my cofounders lifestyle, to the rickshaw drivers English and ambition, has had an upgrade.

20120620-140535.jpgSharduls company Webonize, is perhaps the most impressive and overwhelming of the expansions I witness here. Three years after founding his small offshore development company, his staff count stands at 70+, with office space to match. Standing in front of their massive backup power supply, he explains his full time occupation of late is sourcing and fitting offices. That, and continuing to close individual deals worth upwards of several hundreds of thousands of dollars with US and European clients. Lead around the office like an investor or advisor, rather than the lowly third party friend of the founder that I am, I ask how long they expect to be in the office in which they have just invested heavily and moved into. ‘At least another two quarters’, he explains, laughing. Shardul is a gem, shining more every time I see him. Full of humour and joviality, he talks through some of the challenges he’s faced, personal and entrepreneurial, as though telling a stories round a campfire of times past. His unshakable optimism and neverending energy will take him far, that much is clear to me, as we drive back to the west side of town in his new car, reminiscing about times not so long past.

And as we round off a short two day visit with more of Anna’s kind hospitality and spectacular Italian cooking at a small gathering at home, I am suddenly struck with a familiar feeling that I’ve had here before. It was April 9th 2009 and SapnaSolutions had just had her official office launch party. A group of about twenty staff and friends were sat in a crescent shape drinking and chatting afterwards. I looked around and suddenly felt that part of what Anthony and I had done since arriving in India was to help create a family. People would come and go, and not everyone present were even our employees, but through times shared acquaintance had turned to strong connection; a lasting bond now existed between all.

Now, three years on, it is quite amazing to see what has happened to that family. It has grown to proportions quite beyond our expectations. People we once hired and close friends we made now account for four or five new companies in Pune, employeeing hundreds of people, generating millions of dollars in revenue. Our vision of EnTrip didn’t quite take off as we hoped. But something perhaps even more amazing happened. We helped start a family, and participate as it grew. I can’t claim much was down to me, and in any case, noone single handedly starts a family, one participates in one. For that alone, to have been a small part in this story, I am very very happy. To be reminded of that, to feel part of it again, even just for a few days, thanks to the warmth of friends made here in India many years ago, is worth more than seeing Mount Everest or any number of picture perfect places. What you all have, whether you know it or not, is very special.

Thanks again!

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Steve Jobs’ two gifts to us.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Apple TV Advertisement, 1997

The Products

Every day at 3:10pm when I was seven years old, I would get start to get excited, because school was about to finish. That meant in just a few minutes I could race home and carry on with my drawings.  My father was the headmaster, and he had decided to buy a Macintosh for the school bursar, who happened my mother, to do the accounting. Using a computer saved her hours of filling in forms and doing manual calculations, but that was not why I was excited, as I perched myself on her office chair and double clicked ‘MacDraw’. I would play for hours in this simple application, letting my creations come to life, experimenting with digital ink, simple lines, circles and patterns on the black and white screen.

Macintosh Operating System 1.1, 1984

When I was 13 I got my first mac, and although I didn’t know it at the time, it was just after Steve Jobs returned to Apple. I remember seeing a poster at my high school with the Apple logo, that simply said ‘Think Different’. I liked that a lot. It didn’t look like an advertisement, it looked like advice for life. In the mid nineties Windows was taking an aggressive lead in the home computer OS m

arket and I was made fun of by my friends for using and defending Apple. When Mac OS X came out in 2000, I was very excited because it was based on UNIX, more powerful, safer, and more stable, but my excitement only made my friends laugh more. Interestingly, now half of them have iPhones which run the mobile version of OS X: iOS.

It is a reminder that Apple was not always cool and popular, a reminder that the company made a monumental comeback at the hands of Jobs. After his return in 1996, he swiftly began work on the iMac and the iPod, launched in 1998 and 2001 respectively, and thus began a line of increasingly popular products designed with high utility, yet beautiful simplicity. Jobs has left behind a legacy of products that have revolutionised personal computing, and changed many lives for the better. It’s hard to imagine what the personal computer, music, and phone industry would be like if it wasn’t for Apple. You may not agree with Apple’s closed product philosophy, but you can’t deny their massive influence in multiple markets. Jobs has left us a lasting legacy of amazing products and ideas, and a company with a mission to continue innovating and transforming our experience of a product. This is his first gift: the legacy of products and market changing innovations.

The Story

But what of the man himself? How do we make sense of the overly critical, hypersensitive, super-passionate genius who frequently behaved in ways we wouldn’t tolerate in even the most forward thinking and modern organisation? I think the answer is, most of us can’t make sense of it, but we can still learn from him. The idea that someone with so much darkness was also able to rise up so high is not unique, of course; it is the paradoxical nature of every hero in every good story ever told. Somehow it’s the controversial ones, the flawed ones, and the ones who are at extremes in the personality spectrum who make a dent in our universe, leaving the rest of us behind in the dust, stunned.

It is probably harder for a western mind to understand this paradox than an eastern one. In the West we tend to categorise things, as indeed Jobs often did himself, as either good or bad, perfect or terrible, you either like it or you hate it. Here in Asia they have a better grasp of how everything, including people, are both positive and negative at the same time. Jobs was a both the Ying and the Yang, pulled to both extremes, highly brilliant and highly flawed. For the rest of us swimming around somewhere in the middle of this sea of consciousness, trying not to appear too stupid in life, he doesn’t make much sense.

Steve Jobs, 1984

Yet to Jobs, it’s likely most of the rest of us didn’t make sense. Much of his character traits appear to echo a deep-set belief that ‘You are already naked’, meaning your days alive are limited, so why waste time conforming? “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” Jobs said during his speech to Sanford Graduates in 2005. How many of us would like to truly be able to live every day as if it’s our last? Jobs left behind him a trail of evidence of someone who consistently managed to fight passionately for what he believed in, rather than succumb to the drone of acceptability. He is living proof that it is possible to live a high engaged, energetic life following your heart.

And then there’s his massive and very public moment of failure, which is the most important part of his stranger than fiction story. Jobs’ dark side caught up with him, and still under the spotlight of public attention, he was forced out of Apple, the company he’d almost single handedly built. But he quickly picked himself back up and got back to doing what he loved doing, showing the world he was not through. His failure also taught him about his dark side, and in turn enabled him to grow. This theme of growth through failure is one of the most important lessons of life, and again, his life story is proof of this. Real heroes are not perfectly shiny, and they have all, in one form or another, suffered a great setback in their lives. Rather than being a straight – running success, Jobs was knocked hard, only to pick himself up again, eventually to return to Apple.

Apple Market Cap, 1981 – 2011

And what a comeback – a more mature, but equally determined man, who’d been but a youth when he left, returned to lead Apple to one success after another. Some call it ‘the greatest second act in the history of business’. Jobs proved that perseverance and great passion in what you do can overcome the inertia of what the world told you you just couldn’t try to do. In a world that whispers to us to be balanced, stay cool, and get an MBA, Steve Jobs carved out a completely different path, showing that other realities exist beyond what most of us take for granted. And so it was that the boy of 70s counter-culture California, determined and unafraid to fail, gave us his second gifts: that of his story.

When Jobs died an early death, I began looking back at his life in more detail, and these powerful themes of passion, failure, and the paradoxical hero popped out of his story. Despite having been an avid Apple product fan my whole life, I realised that the gift of his inspiration; his larger than life personality, was worth a lot more than his products. He not only gave us the Macintosh, the iPod, and the iPhone. He taught us to work hard for what we believe in and what we love. He demonstrated that the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who really do. And he truly showed us the meaning of ‘Think Different’. Thank you, Steve, you will be missed, and appreciated, for a long time.

Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

Nick Adams, November 2011

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Fear and opportunity – the rise of consumer dominated IT

This years VMworld conference, notably now one of the biggest and most important events in the IT world, was dominated by one theme: Consumerization. Not even having yet found a place in the Engish dictionary, you’d be forgiven for wondering what the word means. No, it’s doesn’t mean people doing more shopping, in fact it’s specific to the IT world and describes the trend of technologies to spread from the consumer IT market to enterprise (e.g. Mobile Apps), rather than the traditional path which is the other way around (e.g. the PC). Do you use your personal mobile phone to check work emails or write work related notes? Do you bring your personal mac, PC or iPad to work? Do you use MSN messenger, professional social networks, or document syncing services for work? Do you find your personal software and favourite websites easier to use and more functional than the ones your business offers? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you represent the fast growing number of employees who are changing the way corporate IT managers are looking at the world. We are moving into an era where consumer technologies are penetrating all aspects of our lives, particularly the workplace.

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The interest from enterprise vendors in this trend is clear; VMware CEO Paul Maritz’s and CTO Steve Herrod lead this year’s VMworld conference with mobile and application focussed keynotes, despite VMware having its technology roots firmly planted in IT infrastructure and server virtualization. They launched their new ‘Project Octopus’, a system that allows users to sync and store documents in a secure environment, similar to Apple’s recently announced iCloud, and T-Cloud’s SecureSync but focussed on enterprise. Some say it will be difficult to pull users data away from this consumer dominated space, with their data already spread around services like Dropbox, Google Apps, and soon iCloud. Others believe enterprises need to lock down their data and create virtual ‘silos’ which span servers, PCs, tablets, and mobile devices and keep corporate data safe and protected from the increased risk of theft or hacking. Whatever the success of VMware and other enterprise vendors in ‘enterprise-ifying’ these popular apps, one thing is for sure, today the growth of data and success of enterprise IT depends dramatically less on a corporate top down approach and more on consumer expectations and habits.

The Man in the Middle

 

Regardless of how major  IT vendors respond to this trend, I believe it is the CIO and IT managers response that is most crucial. IT managers play an increasingly difficult role of ‘man in the middle’, stuck between a mix of employee demands, software and devices such as iPads and iPhones; and the growing risk of data security, theft, and disaster recovery. IT managers have to balance the potential benefits of consumerization, with the associated risks. And this is not a future trend, it is happening now. According to Unisys’s recent study of 2,820 information worker respondents from ten different countries, over 95% of devices purchased by consumers are also used in a work environment. However, in the same study it was found that 70% of IT managers and employers wanted to standardised devices for their employees. This shows a mismatch between the reality of consumerization in the enterprise, and the IT managers expectations of their system. However, if employers can meet the reality of employee use of personal devices in the workplace head on, rather than just play ‘catch up’ with consumer trends and preference, there is a great opportunity to improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and even lower IT budgets.

And the issue is not just with devices. Many employees use their preferred platforms, applications, and even SaaS as tools in their workplace. I am one of those; a Mac user using Mac apps and SaaS document collaboration tools to aid my work. What does this mean to data security? Enterprise standards & compliance? Scalability? For years enterprise IT and IT departments have failed to keep pace with the rapidly expanding base of easily available and extremely useful tools available to any consumer at the press of a button or swipe of a credit card. This should be a wake up call to managers who want to return IT to it’s once glorious purpose of  aiding enterprise productivity, rather than holding back employees and reducing efficiency with legacy software and rules built for the ‘top down’ era of enterprise IT. It’s time for some radical rethinking of software. Luckily, it’s already begun.

Cloud to the rescue?

 

Enter Cloud. Cloud, or I should say SaaS, is helping bring enterprises back on track, in line with staff expectations of design and interface gained from social networks, games, and smartphones. Services like Google Docs and Baihui allow employees to collaborate, share data, and work from anywhere, in ways that are not possible with conventional IT software. New enterprise software like Project Octopus and SecureSync will allow enterprises to regain control of the data while offering cloud – like sync services to their employees, keeping data safe but allowing convenient access from anywhere. VDI (Virtual Deskop Infrastructure) allows users access to their desktop environment not only from inside the office but securely from outside and from any device, without file transfers or security holes. But even these technologies may not be enough to shift the momentum of users away from their flashy iPad applications and social networks like QQ and Dropbox, which offer similar services. As well as utilising public and private cloud solutions, IT managers need to find clever ways of allowing access to popular services while maintaining security and educating their employees about the risks of data security.

From fear to leadership

 

With the rate of development in mobile devices, applications, and the consumer cloud, the average employee can now derive more value from personal IT purchases than from their company’s IT department. However, as well as empowering the employee to become more efficient, these consumer technologies in the workplace can represent significant risk to the IT manager. It’s no surprise then, that the obvious reaction to this trend of consumerization is one of fear. However, I believe through a combination of communication with employees, Cloud solutions, and careful policy-making, IT departments can turn this wave of consumer technology into a major strategic advantage for their whole company.

 

The first challenge is to recognise the trend, gather data internally about what devices and software staff are using, and carefully open access to useful tools and services. Next, the IT manager can provide a suite of matching tools and software such as SaaS applications which reduce risk and increase employee flexibility. Finally, it is up to the IT manager to help employees understand how to best utilise their personal devices and software for work purposes, while educating them about important topics such as data security, and regular backup. A simple idea such as providing a free secure backup service for employees’ mobile devices and laptops can both help win the employee over to the value of the IT dept, and help protect important company information which might only reside on a their personal laptop from loss or theft. Gartner believes the consumerization of IT is the most significant trend affecting the IT Industry in the next ten years, even bigger than Cloud Computing. I believe these two massive trends are fundamentally linked; that IT managers now have a unique opportunity to shift their thinking from one of fear to one of leadership, and to help their organisations gain a competitive edge by empowering staff with next generation, flexible and secure IT solutions.

 

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Spam on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Page?

A day after Facebook launched it’s new ‘Subscribe’ (poor choice of name, too geeky) feature, allowing anyone to effectively follow anyone’s public posts, I noticed this on Zuckerberg’s facebook page. His page has been spammed by someone posting links to their youtube page…

 

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A Friday Poem from Bernard Shaw

A special person sent me this for my Birthday yesterday – I love it.

This is the true joy in life:
the being used for a purpose recognized by
yourself as a mighty one;

the being a force of Nature
instead of a feverish,
selfish little clod of ailments and grievances 
complaining that the world
will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the 
whole community and as long as I live it is my 
privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, 
for the harder I work the more I live.

I rejoice in life for its own sake.

Life is no brief candle to me,
it is a sort of splendid torch
which I have got hold of for the moment, and I 
want to make it burn as brightly as possible 
before handing it on
to future generations.

- George Bernard Shaw -

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Four Tips for Business and Life from a Young Entrepreneur

Our media company, China-Cloud.com, asked me to write a piece targeted at university students considering entrepreneurship. It will be translated into Chinese (not by me!) and put on the website soon. Below is the original article in English:

I want to begin by saying I don’t really believe in giving advice, but unfortunately I’m not yet wise enough to follow my own advice. Two years ago, in June 2009, I was preparing to leave India after spending almost two years there working on a web startup and then a service company I started with my German-Taiwanese friend from university. It had been a roller coaster of a time, not without difficulties, and packed full of valuable learning experiences. Even though my time left in India was limited, and there was a lot to do at my company (I was CTO), I wanted to reach out to local Indian students about to graduate and give one last presentation. In India I used to teach English to orphaned children twice a week, and once a week teach a university course about The Web. Occasionally our team had the opportunity to give guest lectures to students, inspiring them to be entrepreneurial and consider a different career path. Alas, time and circumstances were not on my side, and I left India before I had a chance to deliver my presentation. Two years later I find myself in China, still in the startup world, and still eager to share my thoughts as a young entrepreneur. So here is what I wanted to say, here are four simple tips for Business and Life:

1. “It’s one thing to know the path, but quite another to walk the path”.

This is a quote one of my most respected mentors, Richard Rhor, an American priest and philosopher. It is also a disclaimer for the remainder of my tips! Most young people including me, and many older ones get very excited about knowing the right stuff. In my experience, nowadays knowledge is worth very little without experience. To get experience, we must walk the path. Many of the things we haven’t learned yet, and some things we think we have, will not fully reveal themselves until we get out there and try it out. In my experience it’s the people who actually walk out into the world and engage with it, that really get what they want. It’s easy to know what the right thing to do is. It’s hard get your head down and actually do it.

When you take a risk and do something, opportunities pop up that you never expected; you learn things you never even knew you had to learn.

2. Success is doing what you love to do, every day.

I believe the world we live in today makes it really difficult for people to be successful. First of all, we start off thinking success is all about having money and being famous. Maybe you still believe that. That’s because the TV and movies and magazines make us think that we should aspire to be like the people we see in them. Although I’m young I’ve been able to meet many people who are rich, and some who are famous, but these are not the most successful people I’ve met. Truly successful people do what they do because they’re passionate about it, and sometimes that leads them to get rich, but it’s not the reason they do it. Apple made $65bn revenue in 2010. Do you think Steve Jobs started Apple for money, or that he works hard for fame? Of course not! He is simply passionate about creating perfect products that are simple and beautiful, yet very clever. I also know many people who are successful but not rich at all, they do simple jobs like teaching or farming, but they love their work. Secondly, discovering what you love doing is very hard, because most organisations today aren’t very good at letting you discover and use your real talents. So you need to work very hard to discover what you’re good at, even harder to make sure you can do what you’re good at for the rest of your life. Starting a business or working in a startup is one good way to learn what you like because there are always new challenges and opportunities to do something new.

Success is discovering what you’re really good at, and finding a way to do it every day.

3. Management and leadership are different things.

A great organisation needs both, but it is important to understand the difference. If you are planning to start up or do a new project, you need to know what leadership is and know how to pick great leaders to work with. In a traditional business, the big boss picks managers who have other managers report to them, and everyone has strictly defined roles, responsibilities, and people they report to. In a traditional business the organisational chart is very important, and is usually shaped like a pyramid. But people who have great leadership skills do more than tell people what to do and report to their boss. These ‘leaders’ care about the goals of the company. They are not afraid to share information with their team and encourage ideas from everyone. They take risks and do things without asking. They are open minded and easily adapt to new situations. They are not afraid to share ideas with everyone and speak out when they think something is wrong in the organisation. They admit when they are wrong and they fix things quickly. They never complain or gossip. Most of all, they inspire their team and other leaders to cooperate and achieve goals together.

Why is leadership so important in this day and age? It’s not just a cool new way of doing management. People with great leadership skills are required more than ever in modern companies because of business expectations and employee expectations. In todays business environment, especially in the technology sector, markets and demands change quickly, innovations happen fast and only good leaders can adapt quickly and lead their team to success. Also, today employees expect better managers and better teams, and it is very easy for them to change jobs if they aren’t satisfied. How many times have you heard someone say ‘I left my company because of my boss’ or ‘I don’t like the culture of the company’? Today employees care who they work for. There is a global company with 20,000 employees that has an almost flat organisational structure, every week the company founders speak to everyone via live video conference, and engineers can spend 20% of their time on their own personal projects. It’s name? Google.

Sure, things get done in a management focussed organisation, but the leading businesses of today’s world are built by people who understand the importance of great leadership.

4. People are everything.

The Chinese know this better than anyone else! It’s all about people. Business, entrepreneurship, teams, even great ideas and technologies. Friends often come to me to ask for startup advise, and immediately start talking about their great idea. The problem is, a great idea is not worth anything without people to build it, people to manage it, people to fund it, people to sell it, and people who will buy it. We entrepreneurs often get carried away with a great new technology, and forget that it’s people who are our most important asset. Did you know most venture capitalists place much higher value on the people in the team than on the idea or the business plan? Great people are not always your friends or people who are like you either. It’s important to have a good mix of people with different backgrounds and skills in any team. Of course simply finding good people is not enough, you need to attract them, and they need to want to work with you, buy from you and invest in you. If you want to start up, being a tolerant, humble, happy person is very important. All the successful people I know are nice to others, and fun to be around.

To be successful, identify great people, attract them, and work with them.

Neither business or life is easy. There are no quick tips or ‘Top 10′ lists which solve real life problems. The best thing advise like this can do is give you a glimpse of what is still left to be learned, but I believe the only way to really learn something is to actually doing it. Even I don’t fully understand because I still have a lot left to do! One thing I do know is that standing up and doing something difficult will open doors to you that you never knew existed. As 20th century Scottish explorer William Hutchinson Murray says:

” The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves as well. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen accidents, meetings and material assistance that no one could have dreamed would come their way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. ”

William Hutchinson Murray, 1951

Jack Ma, Robin Li, and my chairman Edward Tian, are among those who understand this statement better than anyone. They got out there, found something they’re passionate about, attracted great people, and just did it. Good luck!

 

  1. Thanks for sharing Nick, you have some really good points in there, it is helpful to see situations put in context. What I feel as an Entrepreneur is that you can also define your own rules and shape things the way they work for you today, and you are not totally obliged to live by the standard rules that become a norm of society,

    Cheers

  2. “if you are seeking creative ideas,
    Go out walking.
    Angels whisper to a man
    When he goes for a walk”

    “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile
    the moment a single man contemplates it,
    bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”. A. de Saint-Exupery

    Have a look at this website on leadership…
    http://www.trustedleader.org/

  3. Ps I think this is a superb article…

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollywood

WARNING: PLOT SPOILER FOR THE FILM ‘HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2′.

My fiance and I have finished listening the the wonderful Stephen Fry Harry Potter Audio books. It is the second time I’ve done so and they were all thoroughly enjoyable, especially  the final book, energetic and gripping to the very end. We watched and enjoyed the film part 1 of the Deathly Hallows which I thought was one of best adaptations of the books, flowing nicely and feeling natural instead of disjointed and random as many of the other films do.

So I was shocked to find a rather extensive list of differences between part 2 of the film and the book it’s based on. If you, like many others, thoroughly enjoyed the books and watch the films hoping to catch a glimpse of imagery to please the imagination further, you may wish to know  just how much the script writers of the film have taken artistic liberty this time. ‘The final battle between Harry and Voldemort is extended as Voldemort chases Harry through many different places in Hogwarts.’ WHAT? Isn’t the book exciting enough? Isn’t there enough in the book to squeeze into 2 hours without having to waste time on unnecessary additions which add nothing to character development or meaning of the story?

After seeing this list, I’d think twice about watching the film:

  • The opening scene is of Hogwarts with Snape making the students march through the Courtyard.
  • Mr. Ollivander appears to be familiar with the Deathly Hallows, while in the book, he doesn’t understand what the term means.
  • When Voldemort finds out that Harry stolen a Horcrux from Bellatrix’s vault in Gringotts he kills several goblins, including Griphook. Voldemort also then turns to his Death Eaters killing several of them then torturing the Malfoy’s.
  • When Griphook is killed by Voldemort, the Sword of Gryffindor disappears from his hands.
  • When arriving at Hogwarts, Harry burst into the Great Hall furious at Snape for standing in Dumbledore’s place, even demanding that Snape tell everyone how he killed Dumbledore.
  • Professor McGonagall duels Snape in the Great Hall in front of the entire school before he turns to black “smoke” and smashing through a window.
  • A featurette description also said that we will see the Quidditch pitch burn down.
  • Harry through his connection to Voldemort he sees a memory of the Grey Lady at Hogwarts, giving Harry that Ravenclaw is connected to Voldemort Horcrux.
  • Harry goes to Ravenclaw Tower alone and does not encounter the Carrow’s in the common room. Amycus does not spit in McGonagall’s face.
  • A scene is added when Ron and Hermione enter the Chamber of Secrets to acquire a Basilisk’s fang to destroy Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup.
  • The scene where Ron and Hermione kiss takes place in the Chamber of Secrets.
  • A scene where Ron and Hermione are chased by Nagini is added probably after the Chamber of Secrets scene.
  • Some changes made for the Half-Blood Prince film, such as the circumstances of Harry hiding the potions textbook, may also result in some additions.
  • Vincent Crabbe doesn’t appear in the film due to the drug charges against actor Jamie Waylett and Gregory Goyle will die in his place.[241]
  • Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle trying to escape from the Fiendfyre.
  • Added by You-Know-Who
  • Blaise Zabini is present in the Room of Requirement with Draco and Goyle as a replacement for Crabbe. He will likely play the same role Goyle does in the book, as it has been stated Goyle will take Crabbe’s role.
  • Remus, Tonks and Fred’s deaths are not seen in the film, but are seen when the hour ceasfire is called Ron notices Fred then collaspes onto Fred crying.
  • The final battle between Harry and Voldemort will be extended, and while other parts of the second phase of the Battle of Hogwarts will be shown, the primary focus will be centred on Harry and Voldemort.
  • The final battle between Harry and Voldemort is extended as Voldemort chases Harry through many different places in Hogwarts.
  • On top of the Astromony Tower, Harry grabs Voldemort and throws them both off it, they nearly reach the bottom when Voldemort apparates them both away.
  • Snape’s death will not take place in the Shrieking Shack, but in “a Crystal House” that can see the boathouse and the castle burning. Art director Andrew Ackland-Snow explained why: “We wanted to change a bit where Snape dies. In the book, he dies in the Shrieking Shack, and we wanted to get him out from, not a conventional interior, but from that kind of box, to do it in a more dramatic atmosphere. We asked J.K. if she agreed for that to happen in there [...] and she loved it. Besides, it’s a very romantic place to die. Snape dies in a extremely good way, I gotta say”.[242]
  • A scene is added in Snape’s flashback where he comes to Godric’s Hollow, after Lily and James were killed in 1981, to see them dead even collasping when seeing Lily dead, he cradles her in his arms then sees Harry sitting in his crib watching on.
  • Instead of Harry being naked when arriving at King’s Cross he his instead fully clothed, he also sees Voldemort in the image of a red, slimy breathing thing.
  • Hagrid does not place Harry’s dead “corpse” on the ground, he instead leaps out of Hagrid’s arms ready to fight, while Narcissa Malfoy was looking for signs of life but finding none until Harry leaps out of Hagrid’s arms.
  • Neville kills Nagini, just before Nagini pounces on Ron and Hermione just after he defines Voldemort.
  • Bellatrix “disintegrates” after Molly Weasley kills her.
  • Harry and Voldemort have their final duel at the Entrance Courtyard instead of the Great Hall.
  • When Harry defeats Voldemort in the duel, when the Killing Curse hits Voldemort he slowly decays into the air, thus completely disappearing from existence.
  • Voldemort slashes Snape’s throat open with the Elder Wand, before ordering Nagini to “finish him”. Nagini’s attack is not seen, but Snape’s screams are heard and the windows of the Crystal House are splattered with his blood as Harry, Ron and Hermione watch on in horror.
  • Lavender Brown is killed during the Battle of Hogwarts by Fenrir Greyback.
  • Nigel Wespurt is killed during the Battle of Hogwarts, and Neville carries his body into the Great Hall.
  • Wormtail does not appear in the film.
  • After Voldemort tells Harry to come to him within an hour, or everyone will die, Harry sees Remus and Tonks body’s come into the Great Hall Harry decides to go to Voldemort Hermione attempts to stop but fails, as the Grand Staircase Harry sees Ginny she kisses him straight away.
  • After Voldemort and Nagini attack Snape, Voldemort throws Snape’s body into the Black Lake, Harry helps him out he then cradles Snape, he slowly dies in Harry arms.
  • Both Bellatrix and Snape create the largest Dark Mark over Hogwarts the Wizarding World has ever seen.
  • Ron and Hermione are nearly killed in the Chamber of Secrets when they attack by a tsumani created by Voldemort, as their “lives flashing before their eyes” they lean and kiss each other.
  • Voldemort attacks the Great Hall from the Boathouse, causing it to burn and collaspe.
  • Once Harry reveals himself, Voldemort locks Harry up asking how he escapes death, after Harry tells him Voldemort let him out this causes their chase around Hogwarts.
  1. Crying my eyes out.

  2. I think really hate Yates. And I’m not too thrilled with Rowling right now, either. I already knew about a lot of this, but some of it’s new to me, and it really…makes me sick.

  3. I don’t think all of the Spoilers are correct. From where do they have the Spoilers? The Source? I don’t believe it until i can see the Proof with my own eyes (well watered eyes probably)

  4. Having now seen the film, I can confirm 90% of these details are accurate. All the same, the film is better than I thought it’d be!

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Before learning a language you must learn to translate.

Before learning a language you must learn to translate.

I’ve spent the best part of this year learning Chinese, which is my first new language after English. Here is a list of a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way as a fresher in language learning.

1. Before learning a language you must learn to translate.

Sound unintuitive? Every time I learnt a new word, or grammer I found myself searching for accurate English to serve as a translation so I could use the word correctly. Actually this is harder than it sounds, especially for languages with no common roots with English such as Chinese. Sometimes no single word or sentence can accurately translate foreign language, so context is very important when learning to translate your second language. I am always quite excited and surprised to discover a word in Chinese that can be accurately and plainly translated into a single English word, particularly verbs and adjectives. It is especially exciting when that word coincidentally sounds similar, for example in the case of 就 (ch: joe – en: Just) and 所以 (soyee – ch: So).

2. Don’t trust single word translations.

This includes translations given by teachers, dictionaries, books, and especially online tools. I find many single word translations misleading or incorrect. This is not surprising as authors and teachers are not so familiar with your language. More importantly, single words are often inadequate to describe the complicated and subtle implications of a foreign word. Translate in your own head and only trust the translations you make.

3. Repeat Repeat Repeat!

It can be frustrating to forget what you learnt yesterday, but such experiences are inevitable when you learn anything new. There is no other way to engrain new words and grammar than repetition. It might take up to 30 uses of a new word to properly embed it in long term memory, so don’t be afraid when you forget language, just pick yourself up and keep repeating!

4. Tell stories.

We remember stories, not words, and in telling them exercise a creative part of the brain which helps engrain new words and their context in our long term memory.

5. Use tools.

We live in an age of mobile apps and Internet, and as such language learning is definitely being transformed. Every learner’s needs and patterns are different, and all was needed in my case was a few suggestions about what is possible now:

  • Mobile dictionary apps
  • Mobile translation apps
  • Google translate (uses mobile internet to get an OK translation for you)
  • Flashcard apps for your computer
  • Mobile flashcard apps
  • Mobile language learning apps, for example lonely planet which gives you common phrases, including audio
  • Language Podcasts
  • Language learning tapes (now CDs or mp3s)

6. Bootstrap as early as you can.

In programming we have a term ‘bootstrapping’ which means software which once started can continue to build itself without relying on other tools and is self sufficient. When you can incorporate this philosophy into your language learning you are doing well. For example, instead of consistently referring back to your first language to learn new words and phrases, use parts of the new language you’ve already learned as a reference point for new material. After all, your second language wasn’t intended to be a translation of yours, but a self contained and complete form of communication in itself.

7. Find teachers who speak your first language badly.

This effectively forces you to bootstrap, and encourages you to practice what you already know in basic conversation with them. It also ensures the translations you learn are the ones you make, and are therefore more accurate.

8. Love it.

This probably goes without saying, but enjoying learning and using a second language really helps improve efficiency. I feel quite lucky to be able to take some time out to do this while my fiance works here in Beijing!

  1. I just read this article on the new Oxford English-Chinese dictionary. Even they agree that translation is never about word-word conversion:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2010/08/25/oxford-readies-giant-chinese-english-dictionary/

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