Friday, October 14, 2016

Writing and updates

So, one challenge I quickly learned about after moving to Shanghai is that many internet channels are blocked - including Google. And Google owns Blogger / Blogspot. So my access to my blog became very limited. Hence the lack of updates.

Also blocked are a lot of other things that had become wonderful time wasters, like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I like those other things, but I'm not really dependent on them like I realize I have become on Google. Take away Google maps, Google translate and just good old Google search and life as an expat becomes a little more challenging. There are, of course, Chinese substitutes, or other versions that get around the Great Firewall. But they're just not as good.

For instance, you can rely on Apple maps on your iphone. But where's the desktop version when you're sitting at your desk. And if you don't know where you're going, then the search function on Apple maps just isn't up to the task.

For translation, Baidu Translate does a passable job at Chinese. But nowhere as good as Google. And it's pretty useless for other languages. Although I will give it credit for having a nice highlighting function, so you can point clearly at the part you want translated. This was particularly handy when trying to figure out what I was buying in the Chinese grocery store. Was it laundry detergent or dishwashing detergent? Baidu sorted me out.

And, to replace Google search? There's Yahoo. Remember them. And sadly, they're not very good. And there's Baidu, but it's really made for Chinese speakers. And there's Bing, which might be the best option, but still feels kind of odd when you have to search with Bing. Really, who "Bings" something?

Point being, one must adjust. First, you get used to the alternatives. Secondly, you move into your new home, you get set up with WiFi, and you sign up for a nice VPN service. It's not as fast, and it could get shut down at any time, but it gets you around the firewall so you can use the services you became accustomed to - like your old blogging platform.

So, we're back online. Here we go again...