tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:/posts Smarter by sharing 2018-04-07T16:27:03Z Rai tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1268493 2018-04-03T15:48:37Z 2018-04-03T15:48:39Z YouTube’s region locked download feature

I find it interesting that when I am in Vietnam or Cambodia (where WiFi is widespread), I get the option to download YouTube videos for offline viewing (a feature they built specifically for emerging markets). But in Singapore and Japan, the Download button disappears. I argue that this feature is also useful in more affluent countries as there is not much free WiFi in cafes and small shops.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1268491 2018-04-03T15:37:54Z 2018-04-03T15:42:29Z The villa at Pasteur Street

Saigon is like a mysterious lover with many secrets. For example, whenever I eat at the Mon Hue at 178 Pasteur, I can’t but think of the quiet villa next doors, more so with all the talk these days of big data and such.  The villa now houses a kindergarten, but it was once a nest of intrigue and hosted notable visitors such as Henry Kissinger. During the Vietnam War, this building was the office of Rand Corporation. Rand was tasked with debriefing captured North Vietnamese fighters and to figure out strategies to win the war - they called it Vietcong Motivation and Morale Project. Rand’s project lead Leon Goure advised the continuation of war based on his team's interrogation - he concluded that the North was low on morale and they would eventually give up when faced with massive bombing. Top military folks, spies and journalists regularly visited this villa to talk to Goure and his team. To some extent, US air campaign was the result of Goure’s analysis. 

In the late 1960s, Rand sent another analyst Konrad Kellen to take a fresh look at the debrief. Kellen looked at precisely the same documents and concluded that the North would never give up, and he advised the US to stop the war. Can you guess the reason that these two brilliant people, looking at the same data, came with such contrasting opinions?

The answer is “Confirmation Bias”. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias.  Goure was a triple refugee - as a kid his family fled Russia to escape the communists, then Germany to escape the Nazis. Many of the interviewers were Vietnamese who had fled from the North - so they had an inherent bias against the North and interpreted the data according to their own views. Kellen was also a refugee, escaping Germany to the US. He looked at the stubborn resistance of the North from the lens of his own desire to be independent, not from the point of view of the communism versus the free world fight. If you are interested in this story I will recommend this podcast episode by Malcom Gladwell http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/02-saigon-1965. I bring up this topic because this is something I always tell my students - when you find a study or research , find out who created it, find out the motivations of the organisation funding the study etc. And don’t blindly trust the conclusions - if possible go and talk to the people or society that is featured in the study, get your own feel.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1268722 2018-03-30T02:21:00Z 2018-04-04T02:28:28Z Hide and Seek

They are my neighbours. I call them Hide (L) and Seek (R).

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1268723 2018-03-17T02:27:00Z 2018-04-04T02:29:52Z Book meets and learning about a community

Oh no, here I go again. Hearing about unrequited love, quantum physics, getting lost/missing trains and grabbing wonders from the hand of time. We always assemble to discuss what we read , but I end up learning so much more about how the themes in the books relate to the reader’s lives in a city where each generation experiences a faster change compared to the previous one.

From the “What are you reading these days” meet in Saigon.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1258380 2018-03-08T04:48:39Z 2018-04-04T03:31:30Z Get your iPhone to read you articles
There is an accessibility feature on iPhone that helps you read the screen. The phone can actually read the whole web page, even beyond the current screen. Also, you can turn the screen off and keep the phone in your pocket, it will continue reading the page. 
]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1257899 2018-03-07T07:06:32Z 2018-03-07T07:06:32Z Information hacks for people who like to read

Let me share one of my ”information consumption” hacks. I often come across books at a library or while reading an article. I am intrigued by the book, but I may not have the time to buy/borrow and read the book right then. I search for the name of the author or book on the iPhone Podcast App. There is a good chance that I will find an interview featuring the author. I can listen to the audio later on and get a gist of the authors' idea. The audio also helps me decide if I want to read the book. If you are on Android, you can use the excellent listennotes.com site to search for audio clips related to a particular keyword. This hack has helped me make my commutes and queuing up fun.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1257444 2018-02-20T04:00:00Z 2018-03-06T04:48:38Z Finding Russia in Vietnam

Many in Asia follow Western or Japanese or Korean popular culture but some of us cold warriors, we miss Russia - remember all those inexpensive and colorful science books, Tarkovsky movies and upbeat Tsoi music videos. Fortunately for us, these days Russia can be found easily in South East Asia - all you have to do is to go to certain beach areas. 

Notes and translation for the photos below

  1. Russian travel agent welcoming newly arrived tourists
  2. And if you miss the Vietnamese fare, there are always small alleys you can walk into.
  3. This place is popular with the Chinese too, with several direct flights from smaller cities in China.
  4. Most street signs in the couple of streets along the beach are in Russian and Chinese - here is a pharmacy, next doors is a Russian restaurant. This city also has food from Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan and other former Soviet republics.
  5. Heavies - perhaps former inter-agency colleagues
  6. Celebrating Russia-Vietnam friendship. And of course, wi-fi everywhere.
  7. “Russian spoken here” at a travel agents
  8. This shop can copy any bikini design in one day.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1257440 2018-02-20T04:00:00Z 2018-03-06T04:32:07Z A Central Asian cafe in Nha Trang

I found a Central Asian cafe in a small lane in Nha Trang. I got Okroshka - a cold soup with kefir (a fermented milk drink) or kvas (a beer like, but non-alcoholic drink prepared by fermenting rye bread), cucumber, spring onion and bits of meat. There was a man from Tajikistan, we could exchange a few words in Farsi - Tajik and Urdu have several common words. This lane has backpacker places, and the guests seemed to be independent travellers from China. The flavours and sounds - a mix of China, Russia and Central Asia reminds me of the silk route.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1257435 2018-02-19T04:00:00Z 2018-04-04T02:33:03Z When I grow up

As an educator, I find traveling in Vietnam inspirational. I often meet young people who are interested in sharing their knowledge and learning from each other. When I was in Nha Trang, local students invited me to join their learning meet. I was impressed by the organisation ability of Tra and her friends, and also the interesting topics they discussed. When I grow up, I wish I could be as smart as them.

Some factors that help people to get together

Facebook - It is easy to crate an event on Facebook, get you friends to join and let the broader know about the event.

Load and loads of cafes - there are huge number of inexpensive cafes dotting the city, and these cafes don’t care how long you stay as long as you buy some drinks. 

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1257439 2018-02-18T04:00:00Z 2018-03-06T04:28:57Z All is not so quit on new year's day

Just as I hum U2's "All is quiet on the new year's day", I find the small alleys busy as usual. Mobile shops are busy sideloading apps and videos for the last few who do not have mobile data. Streetside gambling is probably the only thing as addictive as the phone.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1257449 2017-12-20T04:00:00Z 2018-03-06T04:54:28Z Playing with a stegosaur

As I sit in this cafe, I feel a little stegosaurus loiter behind me. No, I am not drunk, I have not even ordered a drink yet. Turns out to be a poodle donning a dinosaur themed sweater. His owner, sitting at the far end, was busy on the phone. So, he came back to play with me. He is so tiny, almost like a cat. Guys please send more WeChat messages to the owner and keep her busy. I wanna take this dino-poodle with me.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1219262 2017-12-09T04:00:00Z 2018-04-07T16:27:03Z Thought I had died and gone to heaven Image may contain 4 people people smiling people standing and outdoor
]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1219263 2017-12-06T04:00:00Z 2018-02-21T06:31:03Z No more things

I do not collect the swag they give out at conferences. Swag piles up, taking up space, and at some point in time, we end up throwing this stuff. At the risk of appearing rude, I refuse gifts from people who invite me to give some talk or presentation. And I will never bother you with stuff at a meet or event I organise (unless it is something that you can eat). There was a time when I liked these things, and I would hoard them along with everything else. But then one day Geoffrey Cain took me on a visit to a landfill outside Phnom Penh. After seeing the amount of garbage, I lost my appetite for things.

On a related note, we have to start reducing the garbage we produce.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/global-waste/?utm_term=.ab5090a5a37b

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1219264 2017-11-25T04:00:00Z 2018-02-21T06:31:03Z The fans

If you were near the airport in Saigon last night, you might have heard two sets of teenage shrieks. The second, louder and the longer one was for some Korean band. Let me unravel the mystery of the first one. As I finished immigration and coming down the escalator, I saw the viewing area of the airport jam-packed with hundreds of teenagers. One look at them and you could tell that they were waiting for a band landing soon. It was a party atmosphere. I figured it would be good to put them through some warm-up exercise. So I waved at them and did my best celebrity impersonation - blowing kisses et all.The kids at the front were stunned for a moment, but it didn't take long them to reciprocate. Soon enough the whole crowd went wild screaming and waving the flags and banners. I was in half minds to do some Kpop dance steps, but that might have been too much for the stern looking airport security and would have surely made me a YouTube meme. You can travel half the world, but there is no point if you can’t make some little girls smile.

Image may contain 2 people

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1201041 2017-10-26T07:24:36Z 2018-02-21T06:31:03Z もったいない, don’t waste

In our Japan, there is a word and the philosophy of もったいない, mottainai - meaning “don’t waste”. It is actually hard to fix things these days with local electric supply shops, tailors and shoe repairers all disappearing en masse. I found a makerspace at a campus. I made a short power cable plug (I could not find a single local shop selling a 0.5 meter cable, the only option was to buy on eBay or Amazon where the shipping costs more than the price of the cable). And once you are in a makerspace, you have this strong desire to repair everything, I ended up fixed the fraying canvas on my bag. 







]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1200175 2017-10-23T02:06:59Z 2018-02-21T06:31:02Z Best time in a city's life

I like Phnom Penh for the diversity of food available at good prices. For example, we ate at an Ethiopian restaurant here and it was about 14 USD. A similar spread cost us 45 USD in Tokyo. I like the Ethiopian bread injeera, it is like Dosa but more tangy. 

I think there is a time in every mazor/capital city’s life when there is an interesting mix of immigrants and locals keen on trying new things, lax enough regulations, cheaper rental and staffing costs that encourages such experimentation. Phnom Penh and Saigon are like the Tokyo of 1980s.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1200174 2017-10-23T01:59:50Z 2018-02-21T06:31:02Z What do they make you give

When you travel on a developing country passport and you regularly lose a page and a half from your passport for the visa and the entry-exit stamp.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1198845 2017-10-17T09:57:47Z 2018-02-21T06:31:02Z The lovers

Don’t you love the rain? Rivers of light all around us and you can be close enough for me to whisper. 

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1200176 2017-10-16T02:10:00Z 2018-02-21T06:31:02Z Saigon's upcoming Japantown

The upcoming Japan town of Saigon, located around Nguyễn Ngọc Phương, P19, Bình Thạnh, about 2 kilometres from the older one located at Le Thanh Ton.  

The pickings are a bit sparse right now, and this location is more family friendly with no bars and entertainment establishments as of now. Thanks to Thao for always introducing new places in this city. 

Check out the older Japantown of Saigon 

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1197704 2017-10-12T03:22:52Z 2018-02-21T06:31:02Z Rain

Everything’s new after the rain. 

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1196758 2017-10-08T12:39:50Z 2018-02-21T06:31:02Z 57 channels and nothin’ on

you’ve got all those friends but they’ll only talk to you on facebook 

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1196128 2017-10-05T04:34:55Z 2017-10-06T14:41:04Z The galactic cat

I switched my camera to high contrast black and white mode to take these photos on my neighbourhood cat. The stones embedded in the tar road surface shone like stars. The cat seemed to be flying across the galaxy. 

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1196161 2017-10-03T04:00:00Z 2017-10-06T14:43:46Z A face in the crowd

 Thanks, Tom Petty for providing the soundtrack to my life of aimless wandering and making friends of strangers. 

“You were just a face in the crowd, Out in the street, thinking out loud" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_umeMtV4QU

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1196162 2017-10-03T04:00:00Z 2017-10-06T05:08:12Z The best topping

The neighbourhood to-hua (fluffy tofu) seller. Her smile is the sweetest topping.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1196163 2017-10-01T04:00:00Z 2017-10-05T07:26:08Z The most connected land

Vietnam must be the most connected place in the world. Almost every shop has wi-if and the street vendors parked outside of the shop sweet talk the shop owners into giving them the password. I am also not surprised to see people temporarily squat in front of a shop to get some internet. Most street cafes also have free wi-if, though it looks like the cafe owner is having the most fun.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1196165 2017-09-30T04:00:00Z 2017-10-06T14:44:48Z Kindness of strangers

This morning in my enclave in Saigon, I stopped by a small coffee shop . As I picked up my coffee, I casually remarked that I was hungry - this shop does not serve food, and it was bit too early for the other eateries in the neighbourhood to open. Two minutes into my coffee, a plate of toasted bread and a dollop of cream decorated with chocolate appeared in front of me. The kindly owner explained that she didn’t want me to be hungry. So, she fixed whatever she could. I love free food, feels like home. 

Earlier in Singapore, I hosted a meet at a public library where the participants shared their stories about the kindness of strangers they met in their travels. The world is not too shabby a place after all.

And here in Saigon, I met another coffee cart owner with a bright smile.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1196219 2017-09-24T14:24:00Z 2017-10-05T14:25:47Z Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa, a part of Tokyo where you can buy second-hand clothes.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1189637 2017-09-02T04:00:00Z 2017-09-08T12:40:47Z The Ritual

To cope with the ever-changing world in which we live in, Paul Mc Cartney sings we be prepared to live and let die. For me, I prefer to have a ritual. For many years, whenever I am in the posh Naka Meguro, I buy a sesame bagel from a small shop. Next, I buy a caramel flavoured coffee from a combini. As I rest by the river, this one pigeon with a missing foot always drops by to pick on the sesame seeds.

]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1190424 2017-08-23T16:10:00Z 2017-09-12T10:36:05Z Every Picture Tells a Story, What is Yours?
We love sharing travel stories. If you happen to be in Singapore on the fourth Wednesday of the month, drop by in the evening at the library@Orchard. 


]]>
Rai
tag:smarterbysharing.com,2013:Post/1190425 2017-08-19T16:10:00Z 2017-09-12T10:35:55Z Ticket to Childhood
Dear Mom. Life is dull here in the far away land. No one loves me, and I eat boring things.

In Saigon, we met for the LearnCamp - we discussed how to learn better and the latest research in Brain Science. After the LearnCamp we dined at a cafe founded by a popular author. Nguyen Nhat Anh wrote the book Ticket to Childhood - a collection of childhood stories of growing up in Vietnam. 


]]>
Rai