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Shanghai – Week 06

Ni hao!

As you can see I`m starting to learn Chinese! It`s harder than anything I`ve tried to do so far in my entire life so I won`t be mastering this new language any time soon … but at least I try.

Enough with the introduction, but just in case you liked the last week`s entry (with the street pictures and all) just know that I`m gathering more material for another entry in the weeks to come. So if you`re here for “up-skirts, pantyhose, boobies, long legs, Asian, school-girls” or any other weird search-word … move along, there`s nothing of this sort here … this week! 😛

This Sunday I`m going to quickly go through some things that drew my attention in the past few days, so all in all, this entry is based on short stories.

Let`s see how short can I keep`em!

1. Mixcloud

In case you`re not fully embracing this digital revolution, I`m here to get you on the right path. For the past year I have been trying to understand funk. Which is kinda silly but let this one slide for a bit. So I started gathering all sort of albums from James Brown to Parliament and Funkadelic to Sly and The Family Stone, but I wasn`t quite satisfied with the selection.

Then I turned to Mixcloud, and found some brilliant people making funk mixes and vinyl sessions and people explaining why they arranged the songs in a particular order, and much more information about this genre. I got hooked from the first day and I haven`t stopped listening ever since.

Every day I download the mixes using Offliberty, and upload them to my iPhone. Usually they are 60 minutes long or once in a while 120 minutes. That`s awesome because I can listen to an entire mix on my way to the office, and (of course) a new one on my way home.

And there are days when I`m no looking for something new so I just “spin” one from the favorites.

If you`re into funk you can follow my Mixcloud account. (I`ll probably never upload something of mine … but “never say never”) or you can just follow Laid-Back, JazzCat and HeavySoulBrutha, if you want the whole scoop.

2. Paper by Studio 53

I have a new favorite app for drawing and notes. It`s called Paper and it just replaced 5 apps that were not used as much.

Why I love the app:

  • Looks and feels like a Moleskine notebook, and I got three of those and It`s a pain searching for stuff inside them because they look the same. So the app is worth trying just because of that reason.
    comes free with a powerful drawing tool (the fountain pen) and you can impress just about anyone with that single tool;
  • there are 4 other tools (pen, marker, liner and watercolor) that are gorgeous. And the testing mechanism (just in case you want to know if they are worth the 2$ each) is really well made. I was impressed!
  • the notebooks can be customized with personal artwork covers.
  • the writing feature is the best I`ve seen so far. It`s missing the zoom feature, but when that will be available … I`ll probably ditch the Wacom Bamboo app.
  • it`s super-easy to use.

It has some downsides but nothing that can`t be solved in a few weeks of coding.

3. The TaoBao move

Last week I made the thrilling decision to buy a lens from TaoBao.com (some sort of Chinese eBay) and with the help of a co-worker, the package got here on Friday morning.

I was happy as a kid on Christmas day. I quickly open the package (kudos for the over-packaged lens) and start to check it. The first thing I notice is that it does`n look like the one in the pictures. OK… so that means I have to test it thoroughly. Focus ring: fine. Glass: clean. Fungus: none. Aperture blades: clean and working properly. Zoom ring: not moving.

I new it was too good to be true. At a closer inspection, it was the same lens from the add but the front element was replaced (same serial number but the one in the pictures had the filter thread cracked; the one I was holding was in good condition). Then I moved to the back, there were 3 screws from the original lens and a 4th screw that was totally different. And this is when it started to smell even fishier. On the outside it looked really good but when I took a good look inside the lens it was full of rust and it even rattled like sand inside the mechanism.

The zoom ring started functioning but it was really hard to turn and it was in no way usable in the field.

Right now I`m waiting for my money back, the lens is on it`s way back.

Unfortunately it`s hard to find a used one in a store and if you happen to see one, it`s twice the price that it goes on TaoBao so maybe this Chinese eBay is not for me. I`ll just wait until I get enough money to buy one where I can test it. I did try to negotiate with the store owner but the final price was still to high for my budget.

While on the subject of camera gear, if you`re in the market for a Leica M9 or M9-P, or even the 50/0.95 I`d like to let you know Shanghai is full of them. Almost every camera shop (Leica dealer or not) has an M9 and a Noct on display … just to make us feel powerless.

4. The Church surprise

This morning Ioana wanted to go to a orthodox Church. She found one using Google Maps and we headed straight for it. When we got there we realized that the Church was being used as a exhibition gallery.

My favorite piece was the ping-pong table.

The church looked very believable from the outside, but once inside we felt like in one of those Punk`d episodes. We started looking for the hidden cameras.

This happens kinda often here. 🙂

5. Shoes

I`m in the market for new running / walking sport shoes. So far Adidas has some ugly designs this year and the cool ones from Porsche Design and Originals are either too pricey or non-existent in Shanghai. Nike hired some color-blind designers this year too, and out of 6 different models that I tried today, only one was a snug-fit; the other were either hurting my feet or screwing with my balance.

Talking about balance, the Shanghai New Balance store on Huai-Hai Road was the most interesting shoe store to date. The whole thing was decorated as a New Balance History Museum with all sorts of warn out shoes, and the sofas for the customers were really comfortable. The store crew actually spoke English! (Adidas store was short on that kind of personnel).

Too bad the New Balance shoes weren`t as good for me as the Porsche Design models but in the future I`ll try more models hoping I`ll find something for me.

So far the ones that stood out are: 420 | 574 | 999

I think that`s enough for this week.

At the moment I`m working on some nice architecture projects that I can`t disclose but expect some sort of visual information in the following weeks. This is one of the main reasons I don`t get to shoot as much as I would like. 🙂

Until next time…

Take care, everybody!

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