Saturday, December 27, 2008

Illy Espressamente Coffee Shop in Saigon: Shark fin trade supporter

It's a Illy coffee shop, but be careful: With every coffee you also support the shark fin trade.

It's just another sad story about money and careless people. Someone apparently got the Lilly Espressamente Coffee Shop Licence and opened a shop at Ly Tu Trong Street in Hoh Chi Minh City (Saigon). It's the typical Espressamente shop, nice italian style modern furniture, a lot of different coffee choices, even some food. (oh, and not geek friendly: no power plugs)

So far so good.

Unfortunately thats just part of the story. The owner - based on what the staff told me - owns also the restaurant next door: The Thai Finest Shark Fin restaurant. Even the VIP card is valid for both places. So the profit they may make with the Illy restaurant goes in the same pocket like the money they make with the shark fin restaurant.

In my opinion the only way to make a clear statement is to avoid to go to the Illy Espressamente Coffee shop there and to show the owner, that he really has to think about what he is doing.

I am really surprised about this facts and asked Illy HQ for a statement, why the make business with people who support shark fin trade. I am waiting for the response and will publish it here.

Some people may say, shark fin is a asian tradition. Sure it is. But tradition doesn't mean we have to like or accept it. On Fijii it was a tradition to eat other people - luckily they stopped it. In Afrika it's a tradition to cut females genitals - and the world community is fighting for a stop. In Europe they burnt witches - thank god they don't do it anymore.

To get a shark fin, the hunters just catch the shark, cut the fin and throw the body while the shark is still alive back in to the water. This finning just one of the most cruel ways to kill a animal. The shark is not able to swim anymore and is sinking to the ground and drowning and blooding.

And it's just stupid because they don't care about the sustainability. some places where sharks lived before are already deserted. Sharks are on top of the food chain - if you kill them, other fishes will get overpopulated and that might have a big effect on the ecosystem - something we are not able to control anymore. Every year 73 million sharks are killed. The shark population is declining - about 80 percent in the last 50 years.

Oh, and don't tell me about the medical impact of shark fin. It's just a rumor, short dick men use it as a excuse.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gloria Jeans - one more story

It's just the way it works in Vietnam. Gloria Jean's once offered me a frequent customers card. Buy ten drinks, get one for free. When I asked for the last free drink, the Gloria Jean's in Phu M Hung didn't give me a new card. I asked why, and the staff said, the owner Khaisilk, doesn't want to print any cards anymore.
Of course, these cards are issued in other stores, what - if the staff is right - means, that I should go to other Gloria Jean's store to get a better offer.
I complained in the store, but I am sure they a) did not really understand what I was talking about (indicator: the more they say sorry, the more they don't get it), b) will not forward the complains to the big boss, because big bosses never want to hear bad news.

UPDATE: Got an answer from the main franchiser, the one in phu my hung is apparently a sub-franchise. they apologized and promised to talk with the owner. and keep me up to date about those talks. seems HQ is really professional

UPDATE2: HQ will send me the card and told me about the recent openings of 2 other shops. But, how shall I understand this: "I hope you would spend the card at the new outlets to get to know us more." That actually means that they recommend to spend my money not in the Phu My Hung shop anymore?

Mindmeister with new features

My prefered online mapping service Mindmeister came out with some new exciting features. The most requested one were graphic links (or graphical cross connections) between nodes. And: they did it.
we locked one of our JavaScript gurus in a room with just a notebook and the Encyclopedia of Bezier and B-spline Techniques, and only let him out yesterday.

Other new features are Mark & nudge inactive users, what is really important of people just started with collaboration and forget to come back top their project.
A monir change is the Alphabetize subnodes, but sometimes useful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Collaboration vs. participation 3.0: Dropping Links and Files is an awesome service I first noticed when Adam Curry was talking about in his Daily Source Code. Its just simple: People can drop nearly anything in my box, what might be interesting for me. Its not searchable by Google & Co.
What is it for:
Scenario one: As some people know I am podcasting. I have a science show in German language every Sunday. Even if i do my best researching a lot of sources, there are a lot more science news out there. Sometime people sending me suggestions and useful information by email. Sure, they still can do this. But is just easier. You found a link: Just type in and leave it there. Done. No registration, no forms.

Scenario 2: people working together on a research project. They collecting stuff and need to share ist somewhere. is the solution.

Of course it offers some of the web 2.0 stuff, like comments and rss and there is even a twitter api. But what I like most is that its facing the reality of internet: Bloggers don't really want to be connected in social networks, they offer a blog and people can participate, but not collaborate. Thats the difference. I like that idea, its my blog or podcast, and I welcome everyone to join the community, but it's still my show.

So leave my drops there. please. Og, and dear other bloggers: If you refer to this article, please give me a link back.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Lotte Mart in Distcrit 7, Ho Chi Minh City - a review

We went on the opening day to the new Lotte Mart, desperately looking for more choices of products as there is always a lack of everything in Citimart and Co.

We decided to take a taxi, which was a good decision - it was overcrowded there. But they have plenty of space for motobikes, so during the week you should be able to park without waiting to long (and they charge no fee).
There are three parts of the Lotte Mart: The dining area with Pizza Hut, Angelinus Cofee and Gloria Jeans as well as the food court in the third floor. Then there is Lotte Cinema, Bowling and some area for children in the 2nd floor. And then they have the huge supermarket in the ground floor and the department store in the first floor.

The supermarket
Let's start with the supermarket: After some minutes we were disappointed. The reasons:
- same range of products like in Citimart or Coop
- meat is presented without any cover, so people can touch it or do whatever
- baguettes are presented without any cover, everyone touches that stuff (even the readymade pizaa baguette)
- hygiene at all doesn't play an important role
- the vegetables looked old and faded, even on the first day
- everything has to be wrapped in plastic bags, which isn't really environment friendly
- they try to force you to leave bags outside, but if you (as a foreigern) instist, then they give up
- credit card payment is possible, but the staff doesn't know how

The good points are:
- a lot of cashiers, and they do their best
- fast dirt response team cleaning the floor
- friendly helpful staff
- huge ammount of products, so hopefuly they won't get out of stock so fast
- big carts and small baskets to carry your stuff
- overall shelfs and products are in order

The department store in the first floor is ok, some clothes, ugly furniture and electronics, Nothing special, but not bad.

The Pizza Hut:
Surprisingly friendly and well organized at the opening day (and the was a hell lot of stress for them) , friendly helpful and attentive staff. We got our noodles in time, everything fine. Strongly recommended.

Food court second floor: Seems to be ok, large selecetion, nice decorated and designed chinese restaurant, Highlands Coffee, Wrap and Roll, Pho24.

Cinema: Our hope for entertainment, unfortunately they were sold out. Apparently there are 5 screens, and they announced movies like James Bond. No idea if its dubbed or OV with subtitles.

We will not use the supermarket at Lotte Mart, because we get the same products at Citimart and FiVi mart. For Vietnamese people and some Koreans it might be a place to do the shopping, having some entertainment for the children and everything at one place. For us, its too crowded and at christmas time too noisy. We will go there for a Pizza or Cinema, but thats it.

UPDATE> An article in Saigon Times shows, what the problem is: Just ten percent products are from Korea

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gloria Jean's Vietnam and their service - bad as in most places

What I don't really like is if expensive coffee shops treat customers like shit. I spent a hell lot of money at Gloria Jean's Vietnam, and have been there alone, with friends and business partners as well as with my wife and dogs. Today I was sitting at Gloria Jean's when my wife and the dogs arrived. I took the dogs, my wife ordered a coffee, we sat down, opened the computers and started surfin the internet. After ten minutes, the manager came and told us we have to leave (or sit outside) because dogs are not allowed. Security had informed him (what means, he doesn't know anything about companys policy).

I would understand this if we enter with the dogs and the tell us "no dogs". I would understand this it they have a sign "No dogs". But taking the money first and then throwing people out is just ripping us off. Its the same fucking behavior like Highlands waiting until you took seat, studied the menu and when you order they say "No baguette".

They don't get it. Most restaurants and coffee shops investing in design and branding, but never in operations and improvement. And the staff speaks barley English, mostly they are able to get the order, but that"s it.

I don't expect English at a side street coffee shop, but I do at places like Highlands and Gloria's in Phu My Hung.

UPDATE: A few days later. I sit in Gloria Jeans again. A young couple comes in with a puppy. The same guy who throw us out says now "oh, what a cute puppy". The security doesn't care. So, either they just forgot what happened some days ago, or they just handle people different. (The problem is a management problem, I don't really blame the staff)

Christmas decoration near our home

Christmas Decoration near our appartment

Happy Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Traffic laws: No excuses for expats anymore

Chao-Vietnam - BBC News | Asia-Pacific | World Edition
Foreigners will no longer escape the attention of traffic police in Ho Chi Minh City

Police in Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday started fining foreigners and overseas Vietnamese caught breaking traffic rules as part of a wider campaign to improve traffic law compliance.

Chinese Fruit Contaminated With Excess Pesticide

Chinese Fruit Contaminated With Excess Pesticide
Tests found Chinese-grown fruit sold at Ho Chi Minh City markets over the past month contained excess amounts of pesticide, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health announced on Monday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
Another friend asked for portrait pictures

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Colin Powells advice: Take the weekend off

When asked on CNN about his advice for then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he said: "Take the weekend off". That doesn't mean that she should not be aware whats going on in the world or shut the phone off. That means, that she should stay at home, connected to her staff electronically, but not necessarily physically. "You nee time to rest", Powell said on CNN, "and thats what i did a home." If there was a crisis, he went to office, of course. But if not, he stayed at home.

I totally agree. Staying at home does not mean you are not working. But its a different environment, you can set new priorities and you have still time to rest and recharge yourself.

Its a kind of advice I have for companies in Southeast Asia: Forget the work on saturday, in most offices the saturday isn't really productive. Be more flexible, introduce home office work, VPN, and give you staff so time to rest. At the end they will be more motivated and productive.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Remember the milk available in Vietnamese now

Remember The Milk is now available in Albanian, Catalan, Esperanto, Lithuanian, Norwegian (Nynorsk), Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. This brings the total number of available languages to 31 (w00t!) -- thank you to all of the wonderful translation volunteers from around the world who have helped to make this possible! :)

RTM understands due dates and input in these languages -- so you can enter Monday, E hënë, dilluns, lundo, Pirmadienis, måndag, понедiлок, or thứ hai. If you'd like to use RTM in one of the new languages, you can change your language preference on the Settings screen in your account.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bangkok's red light district suffers from political chaos

BANGKOK (AFP) — The go-go bars are empty and sex is on sale at half price as Bangkok's infamous red light districts suffer from a blockade of the capital's airports.

"It's high season, but now it's like low season," said Nan, a scantily-clad hostess at one deserted nightspot in the Thai capital's notorious Patpong area....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The new blogger law in Vietnam

Just some quotes from Chao-Vietnam

According to the drafter, blogs or personal e-information sites, which are created and registered on the Internet, are used to display personal information to store, exchange, or share with a group of people or a community using Internet services and blogs.

Eighty-five percent of Vietnamese people use blog services provided by foreign companies, Phap Luat newspaper recently quoted Anh as saying.
As a result there will be management problems, if the statute only targets soc
ial networking websites provided by companies registered in Vietnam, he said.

The MIC will contact Google and Yahoo! for cooperation in creating the best and the healthiest environment for bloggers, according to Doan.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not every tourist destination is a Disneyland - some are real countries like Thailand

Even if the protests in Thailand are over now (thats what PAD announced), I am still surprised about some reaction.

In Germany the protests and even the occupation of the airport weren't in the news until some tourists were stuck in the airport.

Today CNN quotes an American: "We wish we hadn't come here at all," said Keri Gannam, a visitor from the United States, who was honeymooning in Thailand. "It's just stressful. It's taken away everything... I'm supposed to have job interviews. I missed them."@

This is just unbelievable. There are people in Thailand trying to fight for democracy (but of course is their understanding of), at least stand up against the corrupt government, and tourists are just complaining about missed flights. So we have to learn from this:

Dear North-Korean opposition (if there is any), if you are planning to make a revolution, please make sure that no tourists or cargo planes are affected.

Dear Islamic Indians, we don't hate you because you are terrorists. We just hate you for destroying our nice hotels and keeping us away from work and travel for 3 days.

Dear Chinese students, if you want to start demonstrations, please don't do it on the Great Wall (Tourists might be disturbed), not at the Tian'anmen (if so Tourisst are not able to make nice pictures) and not at any other popular places. (It worked during the Olympic Games, so what?)

Dear monks in Burma, you were so brave and good when you were walking through the streets. Thanks for not blocking anything - hmm, ok, the Swedagon Pagoda was closed by the government, so it's not your direct fault, but think about this next time.

Dear minors in Cambodia, when foreigners ask you for sex, please just shut your mouth, wait for a scholarship of a western NGO an be happy. Don't stand up for your rights (demonstrations in Angkor are a NoNo) and never, never, never tell anyone that the most people asking you for sex aren't from western countries.