October 27th, 2011
10:34 AM ET

Way of the Weibo: China's micro-blogs seek big audiences and Beijing approval

Micro-blogging sites in China such as Sina Weibo claim to have hundreds of millions of registered users.
Micro-blogging sites in China such as Sina Weibo claim to have hundreds of millions of registered users.

(CNN) - The latest communiqué by China’s Communist Party is only the latest in its clampdown on social media outlets before next year’s annual meeting that will likely install President Hu Jintao’s successor.

“Everything is leading up to the buildup of the 18th Party Congress. China is looking to expand its soft power, and there is a lot more pressure on public opinion and the media. How they will control social media and public opinion will only intensify,” said David Bandurski of the China Media Project at Hong Kong University, in a phone interview with CNN on Thursday.

The high-level document that was approved last week reportedly ordered micro-blogging sites, like Sina Weibo and other Twitter-like micro-blogging services, to strengthen their management of information dissemination and require users to register their real names. The government also said that those who spread false rumors online will be punished. FULL POST

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Filed under: China • Technology
October 25th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

The Art of iPhone Photography

Taking pictures like these – of Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong – may take extraordinary creativity, but these days they can be taken with a very ordinary device. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Technology
October 24th, 2011
02:17 PM ET

Steve Jobs: new biography, new video, new revelations

For Apple watchers and fans of Steve Jobs, there's a lot to digest today.

There's the just-released official biography by Walter Isaacson, new audio recordings of Steve Jobs on "60 Minutes," and and a video of Apple's memorial for the late co-founder.

Apple has released the video of its company-wide service. Available on Apple.com, it's simply called "A Celebration of Steve's Life."

In it, Apple CEO Tim Cook reveals Jobs' parting advice to him: "Don't ask what I would do. Don't ask what I would want. Just do what's right."

The official biography is now available for download via iTunes and Kindle. And already, some juicy highlights are getting posted online.

Here is an excerpt (h/t Danny Sullivan) about a shouting match between Steve Jobs and Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Jobs tried to dissuade them from developing the Android operating system.

In fact, he offered Google guaranteed iPhone access and home screen icons to NOT develop Android.

And finally, there's the "60 Minutes" interview with Jobs' official biographer Walter Isaacson (a former chief of CNN). He conducted over 40 interviews with Steve Jobs over two years, and has just released some of the audio recordings from those interviews.

One remarkable story is how Steve Jobs accidentally met his biological father at a Mediterranean restaurant in Silicon Valley. Not knowing the tech titan was his own son, Abdulfattah John Jandali had boasted that Jobs "was a great tipper."

Steve Jobs said he shook hands with Mr. Jandali and that was it. The two men never spoke again.

October 24th, 2011
11:10 AM ET

AsiaD & Start-up Saturday: the News Stream download!

I am never an early riser.

Well, except for special occasions, and last Thursday was indeed a very special occasion.


Because the first-ever “All Things D” conference – AsiaD – kicked off in Hong Kong from Oct 19th to 21st, marking a significant milestone in the region’s digital history. For the non-geeks out there, “All Things D” conference is one of the largest and most prestigious technology conventions in the world. Organized by two of the most respected tech columnists, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, the conference brings together top-tier innovative and successful business pioneers as well as technology titans with an exclusive preview of industry trends.

Enough adjectives there?

Past conference speakers have included Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and AsiaD’s line-up featured a mix of Asian and Western tech luminaries including Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey and hometown hero Jack Ma from Alibaba Group.

Even though I didn’t get to sit through the entire programme (of course work comes first! Disclaimer: my boss reads this), I was fortunate enough to tweet-spam the first few sessions when Walt spoke to Yahoo Co-Founder Jerry Yang, ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih, among other guests. You can review all the conference-related tweets at “#AsiaD”.

For me, one noteworthy highlight from last Thursday’s morning session was the amazing “light field camera” demo by Lytro Chairman Charles Chi. The team unveiled the product in California only six hours before rushing to Hong Kong, and many reports have already coined it the “revolutionary new camera” for its ability to refocus images. Check out the company’s Living Pictures Gallery to grasp the concept.

Needless to say, a digital convention deserves a digitalized coverage, and without doubt, the team of talented and professional editors at All Things D truly defined the meaning of real-time, seamless online reporting. For more on the talks, speakers and demo at AsiaD, visit AllThingsD.

Although AsiaD concluded Friday afternoon as I obsessively refreshed my Twitter feed at work for updates, I slapped myself awake again on Saturday for another digital meet-up in Hong Kong – Startup Saturday 2011.

While D conferences occurred at the top level, local entrepreneurs are also organizing similar meet-ups in a growing grassroots movement. “Startup Saturday 2011” is a perfect testament for the booming entrepreneur community in Asia.

Co-organized by StartupsHK and BootHK, the one-day event attracted hundreds of startups, investors, developers and tech enthusiasts, including the “super angel investor” Dave McClure from 500 Startups.

AsiaD speaker AirBnB CEO Brain Chesky also made an appearance on stage as he shared his outlandish yet ingenious startup journey including selling “Obama-O” and “Captain McCains” cereals, and paying a personal visit to every single one of the early AirBnB users in New York.

Through roundtable discussions of both HK and US startups as well as an investor panel, I had quite an interactive crash course on the entrepreneurial scene in Asia. Take a look at the Twitter feed #SUS2011 for a detailed recap, and check out Jason Li’s live art notes of the entire conference.

October 19th, 2011
04:23 AM ET

"Please end the indifference": Netizens react to toddler's road accident in China

Two-year-old Yue Yue is still fighting for her life in hospital.

Grueling footage that has sparked outrage online shows her as the victim of two successive hit-and-run incidents outside a hardware market in Foshan, Guangdong Province. It shows more than a dozen passersby ignored the injured Yue Yue as she was left barely moving in a pool of her own blood, only to be rescued 10 minutes later by a garbage scavenger Chen Xianmei.

In an emotional video posted online, you can see Yue Yue's parents kneeling with their foreheads to the ground in a gesture of extreme deference. Chen looks evidently uncomfortable at the attention and tries to get the couple to stand up.

According to local reports, Chen has been criticised in China; many have accused her of being a fame-seeker. However, Yue Yue's mother says she believes Chen was showing the goodness in human nature. FULL POST

October 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Prisoner Exchange: Gilad Shalit's Transformation

With his release from captivity came some of the first pictures of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit that the world had seen in years. Here, he is seen saluting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his arrival at the Tel Nof air base. He looks thin and pale, but otherwise well.

Shalit was only 19 years old when a group of Palestinian militants tunneled into Israel, attacked his army outpost, and took him hostage. That was in 2006.

Looking back at those few images we did have of Gilad Shalit before his release, it's clear captivity can take its toll on a person. FULL POST

October 17th, 2011
02:47 PM ET

China Shock: Bystanders caught on tape ignoring 2-year-old accident victim

A graphic video showing a toddler in a brutal car accident is triggering massive online reaction in China.

A surveillance camera in Foshan tracked every detail, as a van ran over two-year-old Yue Yue.

Sina Weibo has a page dedicated to her story and the accident, which took place on Thursday.

The video is so disturbing, we chose not to air it on CNN/News Stream tonight (and do brace yourself, if you choose to see it - it is VERY graphic.). It shows a number of witnesses walk by and ignore the stricken child. It also shows another van run over her a second time.

Minutes tick by until, finally, a trash collector sees Yue Yue and carries her to the side of the road.

Eventually, her mother appears and rushes her to the hospital. And again... every single moment is captured on closed-circuit television.

On this page, you can see a screen capture after the accident. Yue Yue is lying on the ground, motionless.


October 17th, 2011
02:16 PM ET

Samsung and Apple: Yes, it's complicated

It's another salvo in the smartphone war.

Samsung has filed an injunction to block the sale of Apple's sale of Apple's iPhone 4S in Japan and Australia, citing patent infringements.


October 6th, 2011
09:16 AM ET

iVigil: Hong Kong remembers Steve Jobs

Apple's iconic logo remains symbolically dark at the company's Hong Kong store.
Apple's iconic logo remains symbolically dark at the company's Hong Kong store.

In front of the Apple Store in Hong Kong, a young man approaches the entrance. He carefully places a Steve Jobs figurine on an altar, kneels in front of it, whispers a prayer, and walks away.

And the local media go wild.

Hong Kong's tabloid photographers have gathered en masse at the Apple Store in IFC as the city's ardent fans leave flowers, tokens, and cards all in honor of Steve Jobs.

One handwritten note reads, "Steve Jobs' spirit lives forever" and "we will miss you."


October 5th, 2011
09:40 PM ET

A day in the life of an iPhone addict

Anyone who knows me will tell you I cannot live without my phone. It virtually holds my life together. But instead of an emotional ode to my iPhone, I thought the best way to truly show you how attached I am to it is to take you through a day in my life.

11am: iPhone alarm rings. I suppose I could have used an actual alarm clock, but I can’t eyeball my email on my alarm clock, can I? (Note that I didn’t actually say “read” my email; I just like to skim the subject lines to decide how guilty I should feel for not actually reading them.)

1pm: On the way to work, I’m struck by an inane thought. In the past, I’d keep it to myself, or use as small-talk. Now? Out comes the phone, and inane thought becomes an, er, “insightful” tweet.

130pm: Arrive at work. Instinctively use foursquare to “check in” and share the fact that Ravi Has Arrived At The Office with the world. Co-workers give me funny looks. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology