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Lessons learn (6/7/2016)

Pakistan Star is the winner of a Happy Valley Race on 1/7/2016. Pakistan Star made a couple of errors before winning the race:

Late Start

It began very slowly to be conspicuously last after 100 meters but it only got worse from there, as he struggled to stay in touch with the field and drifted to some five or six lengths behind the second-last horse at the 800 meter mark.

Wrong Path

It chose a seemingly wrong path by  choosing to outside. This is a great challenge to conventional wisdom. Since the inner rail is much shorter the the outer rail. Going the outer rail will always means going further to achieve the same position.

Losing at the starting line (a.k.a. win before ejaculation)

By not giving up, even if you are losing by a significant distance, you can still catch up if you play the game cleverly. As long as you don’t give up, there are still a lot of fighting chances.

Outside Ring Loser 

By not following the typical peck, Pakistan was able to surpass the pack by unleashing a very amazing sprint at the very end. If it tried to play the game that the other horses are playing, he might not be able to surpass anyone since its advances will be blocked by other horses, leaving its strength go to waste.

The lesson learned is, when you are losing and trying to catch up, don’t try to play the games that others are playing. Instead, maneuver yourself and position yourself cleverly to take advantage of your strength.

 

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Importance of cover design (3/7/2016)

 

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Which of the books above are most attractive to you?

easypass

Of course its the orange book. Its a study manual for Licensing Examination for Securities and Futures Intermediaries Paper 1 – Fundamentals of Securities and Futures Regulation (Second Edition). It’s no surprise to me that it has become the most popular book since the mid 2009. Before the introduction of this book, there are a few more competitors with relatively “professional” but boring cover.

證券及期貨從業員資格考試全攻略  1take過

Sometimes being low tech is and advantage. Readers who is holding a physical book is actually a moving billboard in the examination center. That’s something that cannot be replace or replicated by electronic device, app or software.

 

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The need to be bad enough (25/5/2016)

HK_Toyota_Comfort_Red_Taxi (1)

When I was reading newspaper and blog posting these few days, a lot of news have revolved around the subject of the first official “Taxi App” .  I am referring to these two articles in particular

Hong Kong cabbies seek to revamp image with taxi-hailing app amid rising competition – Rachel Blundy 22/5/2016 (SCMP)

實試 100% Call 的失敗 ! 的士業議會「的士 App」評測 + 司機專訪 – 23/5/2016 (Unwire)

I was quite surprised that the Taxi Council, a professional organization that represent the interest of the Taxi Industry of Hong Kong has launch such an app. I cannot understand why they are launching it now, since its not in their agenda to do so and the chance of failure of this app will be pretty high.

I am highly skeptical of the popularity of this app since

  • Most taxi drivers are middle age men who are not necessarily good in technology. Registering an account and actually using it might be a challenge for most people. If the drivers are not using it, no passengers will be using it since it will be useless to hail with a taxi app when there are no taxi to be hailed.
  • Most Hongkies are not comfortable with technology let alone using it on their mobile devices. Most Hongkies are also impatient and are always in a hurry. I suspect they would not be patient enough to use such an app.
  • The market is already flooded with Taxi hailing alternatives such as the Mainland backed Kuaidi, CallTaxi, Easy Taxi, HK Taxi…

Given such low

My conspiracy is that the Taxi Council is trying to develop a marginally usable app to discourage the use of technology in the industry. By making this app bad enough, users of the app will not be able to use it let alone reuse it in the near futures. These unpleasant experience will also result in the dist interest in the alternatives, since most people cannot differentiate one Taxi app to another, if one is bad, most Hongkies will assume all of them are bad. If the app is bad enough and the usage rate is low enough, they can use this as piece of evidence and prove that technology is ill prepared for Hong Kong’s taxi industry.

By proving this, they can apply pressure on the government to ban newer apps and market disrupters such as uber, lyft and all that western startup.

To download the app you can go to

Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.autotoll.taxiPassengers&hl=zh_HK

Contary to these useless apps, the one thing I really think would be useful would be an official location translator for Hong Kong. That is the user can pick a building or a street number in his/her mother tongue and utilize the translation function of the app to communicate with the driver or passerby to ensure there are no miscommunication. There are already apps for that, check it out

Hong Kong Taxi Cards – https://itunes.apple.com/hk/app/hong-kong-taxi-cards/id683353582?mt=8

Hong Kong Taxi Translator –  https://itunes.apple.com/hk/app/hong-kong-taxi-translator/id438401655?mt=8

 

 

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Regulations in Hong Kong that suffocate innovation in financial technology

Hong Kong: What are some “broken” regulations in Hong Kong that suffocate innovation in financial technology?

To answer this question, we have to figure out whether innovation in financial technology has suffocated and if “broken” regulations in Hong Kong has caused that suffocation.

It’s pretty safe to say e-commerce or any advancement in Fin Tech in Hong Kong is dead. That is because Hong Kong prudence attitude towards finance. To innovate and encourage innovations means more work, and no on on earth wants more work unless he is a nut or have vested interest.  Most bureaucrat who are in-charge of finance in Hong Kong have no idea how internet works and what are the implications. They do not believe its worth the time to change the system to cater to these technological advancements.  This I believe is a form of myopia based on what has happened in their up bringing, from rag to riches because of labor intensive low tech venture instead of high tech ones.

However, to put the blame entirely on regulators and bureaucrats are unwise. Its never the regulations that is suffocating innovation in Hong Kong or anywhere in the world. If there’s money, people will do it. Government regulates prostitutes and drugs with a handful or ordinances, yet it flourishes in Hong Kong with flying colors.

The biggest hurdle towards innovations in Hong Kong is because of what I call the Chinese mentality.

Due to the early development of internet in Hong Kong. Locals can easily equate (Internet= paradise of scam artist=not trust worthy).

On top of that, locals Chinese like myself are infamous for creating scams, so level of trust in Hong Kong is fairly low.

When we are in business and we do not know the party very well, we perform top level “due diligence”, even for a few dollars of purchase. They do not mind 2-3 hours of travel to save a few penny. Time is not a precious rarity in the mentality of local. The most important thing is not to be taken advantage of, even with a high opportunity cost. When there’s a choice between phone and online. Phone is preferred. When there’s a choice between phone and brick, brick over phone any day.

As you can see there are a lot of automatic ordering machines, no local Chinese will use it when given a choice.

Locals will discuss whether a shop is pricey or not and discuss for days before making a purchase, the more they discuss, the less impulses there are as usual. And if they do want to make the purchase, hey hong kong is a small place, why dont i just walk down the street and use this price online to bargain with the shop owner instead of shopping online.

As you can see this is a vicious cycle, with little people preferring technology, no one will be interested in investing in anything. That means poor technology and even less willingness to use it.  Most websites in Hong Kong are not updated in ages. Even if they are functional, people will assume its out of date, guess what will they do? They will find a phone number and call it until its off the hook.

“As a side note, you can read my blog “Chinese Obsession with Fixed Line Phones

Hong Kong is the low tech capital of the world, to deter any complains, governmental organizations encourage people to use facsimile, since facsimile cost money, no one will complain and its another easy day for bureaucrats. And lets not forget, if you hang up the phone by “accident”, no facsimile will be received and everyone will be happily ever after.

However, if one is brave enough, its very profitable to turn high tech proposition like online testings, online material and turn it into profitable offline products in Hong Kong.

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Visiting Algorithmic Trading Group (ATG) (8/3/2015)

I was visiting the Algorithmic Trading Group (ATG) on 4/3/2015. ATG is a rarity in Hong Kong in a sense that they welcome new trades to join them and trade their house money. Traders are expected to build models which can trade stocks globally to generate profit for the firm and himself. Most financial shops in Hong Kong are looking for sales to increase their AUM rather than trading profitably.

The ATG office is a very hip and the trading floor is more like an internet cafe. Yet the atmosphere was tense like any trading floor, with the commander in chief – Tom Voute standing at the cockpit. They even have a pinball machine in the office, and dont be mistaken, its not for show and tell. It actually looks like a playground. If you are interested in seeing the trading floor, you can check out their website, they have a live camera showing you the actual trading floor.

They are currently planning to trade in

  • MIL
  • BATS
  • OMX
  • OSX
  • Warsaw
  • JSE

Basically, Tom is looking for programmers with

  • C# Programming Skills
  • Java

Interns and talented youngsters are also welcome, should you are interested to meet with Tom. They do not value financial abilities, rather they are looking for math majors or CS individuals.

They are currently running

  • Delta 0 Strategies
  • HFT Strategies

They don’t conduct directional trades.

I met Tom Voute, the founder of ATF on Google+ https://plus.google.com/+TomVoute, Tom is quite a character with a cynical sense of humor. You should follow him if you like cynical jokes about Hong Kong and the Netherlands.

 

Links:

 

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Workplace Romance in Asia? (16Feb2015)

(Written by Justin Castro and Conrad Ko)

So you eye Aiah across the hall, your eyes interlocking every time they meet. You know you want it, you want it so bad. It’s not like it’s the first time you asked someone out (unless you’re really socially awkward, then all I can say is I’m so so verily sorry) but this time it’s different; this time, you’re in the office together. The little voice inside your head says it’s a bad idea; it’s going to create a conflict between your work life and your play/”real life” life, you won’t know how to interact with her: should you be professional because she’s your colleague or be flirty because you want her sooo bad.

fig1

Figure 1 Workplace Romances are generally like this, with less attractive people. Source: Thomas Northcut/Getty Images

Workplace romance is well, workplace romance. It’s when there’s romance in the workplace. I don’t think there’s any need to explain that further. There’s no specific account as to when it originated, but if I’d have to guess it started way way way back, with emperors falling in love with their slaves or concubines. I’m pretty sure there’s a dozen television shows out there with a subplot involving someone trying to conquer some country while having an affair, all the while their wife plots her spouse in secret while developing her own side romance with a conspirator. But I digress, in today’s hectic work environment where people are almost always expected to go overtime; it isn’t surprising to see workplace romances pop up. I’m pretty sure most water cooler discussions in the office revolve around who’s dating who in the office.

And don’t think it’s just the day-in day-out workforce that gets to have these romances. The leader of the free world, US President Barack Obama, met his other half while interning in his first law firm. Bill and Melinda gates met at a press event, and got married six years later with a marriage that involved a private jet, another philanthropist-billionaire (Warren Buffet) and probably the most expensive engagement ring of that time. And of course, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They met while filming “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and eventually ended up as Mr. and Mrs. Pitt.

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Figure 2 Brangelina. There’s no other couple as beautiful as this. We should probably just give up. Source: fanpop.com

According to a Workplace Option survey, nearly 85% from those aged 18-29 would consider having a workplace romance. That percentage decreases as the age increases, but it would be wise to assume it’s because some of those past the age of 30 have already married and settled down. As to why people partake in office romances, there’s a good variety of reasons.

The first and foremost are personal, that is the office romances are born out of the characteristics and personality of the people involved. This might be because certain jobs tend to attract people with the same interests. Anyone working in a startup would be well acquainted with technology, which makes it easier to start a conversation, which would hopefully lead to the start of a relationship.

fig3

Figure 3 Neckties were invented for stupid, sexy reasons. Source: Jonathan Ross

This is basically the standard romance, with the only difference being that the romance takes place in the workplace. The positives of having a workplace romance isn’t really considered, but it helps that it feels good to go to the office every day to see her, doesn’t it?

Then there are those that seek a romance for work-related reasons. Having a workplace romance increases job performance, or to improve job satisfaction or to have another reason to go to work…aside from work. There are also those that seek to improve their career, using such relationships to get themselves up the corporate ladder faster. And there are those that have one for the thrill of it as some people get a sexual kick from having a workplace romance, not to mention one that is extramarital in nature.

fig4

Figure 4 He’s definitely married. Just look at that grin. Source: askmen.com

However, don’t think it’s the same across the world. People in Asia tend to avoid such relationships as there is too much reverence between the boss and the worker. Singapore has around half of its workforce against workplaces romances, according to an online survey. This seems to be common amongst the Asian societies as they tend to be more collectivist in nature, as having workplace romances might damage the image of the company as one that isn’t serious about its work.

But if you’re not part of that statistic, then you should be able to reap in the rewards of having one.  People who have a workplace romance are generally more outgoing, have better productivity, have higher job satisfaction scores and are just better people to be around with overall (that’s the power of dopamine, strong stuff that is). But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. As our early school lives have taught us, not all loves are meant to last. Once a relationship ends, animosity might develop and how the other officemates might see the couple might change. There’s also the threat of getting fired, if the relationship was a vertical one (that is, between someone in authority and someone who is a subordinate).

fig5

Figure 5All these photos have white people. Where we asians at? Source: Huffingtonpost.com

So after all these pros and cons, you’ve decided to get a workplace romance. How, do you ask? Well, just go get one. It’s no different from asking else out, just be prepared for whatever consequences that might entail, be that from straight on rejection to, gasp, a potential partner for marriage. There’s also culture to consider. People in Hong Kong are generally more cosmopolitan and globalized but those that come from more conservative countries might not like the idea of it. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try. The worst that could happen is she slaps you in front of the office for daring to suggest a thing. But hey, you don’t get to be Michelle Obama if you don’t take any risk in dating that odd guy who just asked you out. Just be sure that you’re prepared for the fallout if things go south, which might probably happens depending on how bad of a human being you are.

Oh, and if you do get married because of this piece, please do invite me. Weddings are nice, besides the happy bride and groom there’s usually the open bar for all of us cynical people who just want to drink our problems out.

fig6

Figure 6 to be honest, I just made this post so I can show this picture

 

 

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Viral Youtube (13Feb2015)

This video is a demonstration of world famous penile artist- Tim Patch (a.k.a Pricasso). We bought his paint in Dec 2013. I took this video back in the adult expo in Macau in 2013. I posted this video on Youtube in Aug 2014, and after half a year, this suddenly popups and went viral. Amazing Youtube, you should never give up.

You never know when your video will become viral, probably a week, a month or a year. This is the internet, you will never know.

Pricasso in Macau [20_Dec_2013] - YouTube Pricasso in Macau [20_Dec_2013] - YouTube (1)

 

 

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Why Coworking space in Hong Kong? (9Feb2015)

(Written by Conrad Ko & Justin Castro)

So you wake up at 6AM, the greatest idea ever comes to your mind. You start thinking about it; day in, day out it’s the only thing you think about. You come home at 6PM, and the only thing that greets you is your family asking you to do chores or favors. But of course you’ll do it, you’re 27 years old and you’re still living with your family. You finally finish everything at 10PM and finally have the time to start working on your own project. Only problem is you’re being bothered. Still. Continuously. Without end. So you decide to move out, find your own flat for privacy. But you can’t because it’s so expensive. So you put your dreams on hold until you grow old to be around 50 when you can finally afford it only to realize that someone else had done it. All because you put your little dream on hold. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Let me introduce you to the most brilliant and most glorious idea of our modern working lives: coworking.

What is Coworking Space?

coworking4

Coworking, not co-working as some people would spell it, is a booming idea in today’s technologically driven world. The premise is simple: one rents a table or space away from his or her home to do his or her work there. It sounds simple, but there’s a whole lot more to that (but really, it’s simple. Just keep on reading).

Why not a coffee Shop? Why don’t I work at home?

cowroking3

You might notice that if you are a regular to a coffee café, certain people almost always occupy the same seats, hunched over their laptop, their coffee already hours old and still just half drunk. These people are usually freelancers or startup entrepreneurs. They tend to congregate towards these cafes because of the availability of internet and an ambiance that helps them work. There are a variety of reasons as to why this is. Some people cannot concentrate on doing any sort of work at home as they do not want those two spaces (work and rest) to mix with one another. Some people might like working alone, and with the rising cost of real estate in Hong Kong, young professionals just starting out their career would find it hard and expensive to buy or rent their own living space. This is where coworking spaces kick in.

The Origins of Coworking Space

coworking1

Coworking spaces began in the United States. Back in the mid-2000s, when the social media/smartphone/new internet scene hadn’t taken off yet, the primary users of these coworking spaces were professionals like accountants who needed office space to conduct their professional service but weren’t necessarily employed to a company. Coworking spaces offered these without the huge capital required to set up one’s own office. It was a win-win; coworking spaces would have a steady amount of clients who wish to use their facilities while workers were able to conduct their profession without spending too much on space.
But as the Internet 3.0 exploded, these spaces suddenly became more in demand. From a mere 75 spaces in 2007, there are now near 2000 of them in 2012. In a span of five years, it expanded over 2500% as more and more professionals seek their own private-yet-not-personal space. And so these spaces evolved as well. From very traditional offices with cubicles, they became hip and colorful spaces, with bright and colorful décor to match their elegant furniture. These spaces became more reminiscent of the Google campus then the typical work space office.
These crowd working spaces then started catering more towards this crowd. High speed internet was almost always a must. Snack bars, light recreation and lounges became more commonplace. Social events that allowed fellow coworkers to mingle with each other were now held weekly.

As to why they exploded, it’s primarily because of the very human need to socialize. Because of the internet, a lot of technology based startups can work almost anywhere, provided they have a laptop and stable enough internet connection. This allowed anyone with a great enough of an idea and the skills and dedication to back it up to create their vision. But as most creatives would understand, it is also necessary to get feedback and criticism. These coworking spaces became the avenue of that. At any given time, there are a large variety of projects happening inside these coworking spaces, with the people inside of the freely trading ideas with one another. At the same time, they get to socialize and meet new people that they might potentially work with in the future. These coworking spaces have then replaced the traditional office.

What are the benefits of Coworking Space?

coworking2

Coworking spaces are highly ideal for individuals or very small startups. Traditional companies that are large and have a more vertical organizational structure will find it hard to adapt to coworking.

Coworking Spaces in Hong Kong

coworking5

Coworking spaces in Hong Kong are quite common nowadays. Almost all of them offer the same base amenities mainly high speed internet connection, large and open workspaces for individuals and a lounge for socializing, usually at around 1500 to 2500 HKD. Individual rooms for groups, 24/7 access, conference rooms, photography studios are available for extra. Do note however that most of these spaces require an application, some spaces might already be filled up and full while some spaces tend to look for certain applicants. The Good Lab, for example, is dedicated to those who are more socially oriented and one might not get his application approved if his idea is more of a commercial venture.

List of Coworking Space in Hong Kong

Geographically, the spaces are spread out all over the city. Sheung wan, Kowloon, Sai Kung and Tin Hau are home to the well-known coworking spaces.

 

 

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Coworking Romance in Hong Kong (1Feb2015)

(Written by Conrad Ko, Edited by Margaret Jarvis)

How many lonely hearts are there in Hong Kong? It’s a tough question for many. According to statistics, there are many more women than men in Hong Kong. In 2009 there were 907 men for every 1,000 women in the city. Nevertheless, there are so few stories about finding the perfect match in the city, that it is very discouraging on both sides.

The top reason on the list is that there are not enough venues and occasions to meet a high quality partner. The fact is, most Honkies go straight home to bed after work, leaving no time for meetups, cocktails, buffets or other social mingle time. The more single you are, the more time you devote to work, creating a vicious cycle. Since you have nothing to develop, apart from your career.

Be honest, you want guys or girls, not work. So how can you break this vicious cycle? The answer is blatantly simple, find a guy or girl during your working hours, two birds one stone. What a great solution! .As a matter of fact, there are tons of opportunities in the work place. But for the sake of this article, I would like to introduce a new concept – Coworking Romance. To be exact, romance developing in coworking spaces in Hong Kong.

Having a Coworking romance is actually a very good idea, because working for a start-up itself screens out a lot of low quality girls and guys. It certainly screened me out, as I am a Chinese and I am frugal enough not to spend dollars on it. But let’s be honest, you want the lavish ladybird or sugar daddy, right?

From my POV (generalization, bias, BS), my Coworking Space filter will reveal people with the following qualities.

462px-Pyramid_of_Capitalist_System

• People who speak near native English. People who work in Coworking Space in Hong Kong are generally educated abroad, or come from an expatriate background. So if you want to find your perfect Snow Man or the Pearl of the Orient who actually speaks English, this is the way to go.

• People who can afford to pay 3-5k a month for nothing. People in Coworking Space in Hong Kong are generally young energetic rich kids or semi-retired professionals who are looking for a second career. Obviously these people do not need a job to feed their family. What does that mean to you as a girl or guy? It means that if you date this bloke or pony, you are going to spend less on dining and other expenses, you might even get a free ride to fine dinng venues in Hong Kong. Again, remember? Two Birds one Stone.

• People who are hip and good looking. People in Coworking Space need recognition from others, that’s why they work at coworking space and not at home in their pyjamas. Since they are involved in the relentless pursuit of looking good, they generally have good taste in fashion and food.

• People who are looking for a moon shot. People in Coworking Space have dreams beyond their reach, ATM, they go for the moon shot. That is if you date them and eventually start a relationship with them, you might become a trophy winner or have a ticket to a future ATM.

• People who actually have the time to develop romance. People in Coworking Space do not have a boss at their back. That means they have more time to do what they want at their own discretion, be it romance, affairs or rendezvous. They most certainly have this priceless asset – Time.

Venue wise, Coworking space is especially good for workplace romance, why?

Photo Gallery _ the Hive Hong Kong Coworking Space _ the Hive (2) Photo Gallery _ the Hive Hong Kong Coworking Space _ the Hive (1)

• It’s usually quiet, not a lot of background noise, perfect for brewing ambiance. In a traditional Chinese office, the only thing you hear is swearing and phones ringing, which are the worst enemies of romance. However, in this romanticized working utopia, you have a no-phone policy, or a quiet policy. Which means there are no sounds, only eye contact, the perfect ingredient in starting affairs… Hmm I mean love.

• It’s usually well decorated with elegant wood finish. Lots of chairs and sofas. Most Chinese offices are decorated with partition board, plastic partitions and metallic plates. Whereas in a coworking space, you are surrounded by heart-warming cozy wood, which means you want to lie down and take a rest more often, usually means more cuddling.

• It’s not dry, you can consume alcohol on the premises. In a traditional Chinese Office, nothing other than water is provided. Why, you might ask? As frugal as the Chinese are, why do they provide water? The answer to that is, it’s required by law, although the boss may be tempted to put amphetamines in the water to boost workplace productivity. In a Coworking space, they actually encourage you to drink – the more booze you have, the more likely you will want to stay in this utopia, which equals higher profit for the coworking space owner. And remember as Shakespeare said, “If wine be the food of love, drink on.” The more wine there is, the more love there is, naturally.

• You can smoke, love is in the air. You cannot smoke in a regular office without waiting for 5 minutes to go down in the lift, and then up in the lift again, which means no time for private conversation. Whereas in some coworking spaces in Wan Chai, you can get outdoors to smoke in seconds. The craving for nicotine is a perfect excuse for a few minutes of cuddling.

Given our hints, what are you waiting for? Go to a coworking space on the weekend to hunt for your Prince Charming immediately. Ok I will give you a list now:

Top 10 Co-Working Spaces Places For Parents To Plug-In Apr 03, 2014 – http://www.littlestepsasia.com/hong-kong/articles/play/top-10-co-working-spaces