Ethereum’s Issues Stem From the Basics

Ethereum is certainly #2 in the market capitalization only second to Bitcoin but it doesn’t mean it’s as easy to use.  In fact I suspect my recent experience is what is keeping it from rising, Ethereum makes me nervous and reluctant to use it everyday. As someone who has used the client’s/wallets for both I find Ethereum’s is cumbersome and at times impossible to use, thus preventing the user from using it to do any transactions at all.

Imagine if a simple eTransfer or Wire from your bank took over a week to initiate?  That’s way too long and beyond the purpose of the infamous but in practice non-realtime transactions in the cryptoworld.

I spent nearly a week syncing 4 months of blocks!

I needed to do a transaction in Ethereum and opened up my Ethereum Client which slowed my whole computer down and ultimately wouldn’t update past a certain point.

I consider myself an above average user who is good at troubleshooting issues.

I updated to the latest Ethereum client and that still didn’t fix it.

Some users suggest deleting the “chaindata” folder and that didn’t fix it.

Eventually I decided to do delete the whole “Ethereum Wallet” folder (never do this without backing up your keystore files safely).  Also be aware that this folder “Ethereum Wallet” is not where your keys/wallet data are stored.  In Linux they are stored in “~/.ethereum/keystore”which is very misleading when you have a “~/.config/Ethereum\ Wallet” (which is not where your wallet data or keys are stored).  I stress this because I came across many who had sworn off the Ethereum Coin and team because of this confusion where they lost their keys and ultimately their investment and coins.

The solution was to delete “~/.config/Ethereum\ Wallet” but the fun didn’t stop there.  It was updating so slow through the missing blocks that it felt like I was mining the entire blockchaining (you could literally count 1 by 1 as it was processing or sometimes it would take minutes on a single block).  I’ve been able to sync the whole Bitcoin or Litecoin Blockchain more quickly and without or much impact on my computer.

I decided to switch the chaindata for Ethereum to SSD it did speed things up but not significantly and still took about a day to catch up and my computer still did slow down.

What I Learned About Ethereum

For all of its features I think the team is out of touch with getting the basics right first, as evidenced by the “Parity” fiasco where through no fault of the users people have essentially lost or have 160M worth of Ethereum coins frozen and lost presumably forever.  I have never seen this with another major coin.

Nor have I seen or experienced the confusion on basics of why their client is so complex.  Why does it use another program geth to sync the data?  Why are there so many different choices, fast sync (which didn’t help speed things up for me), a MIST client and so many different confusing and unnecessary choices and complexity?

I like how I can just download the Bitcoin client or Litecoin client and it works simply, there’s no guessing or confusion.

When it comes down to it, if someone with my background is having to troubleshoot and it slows me down from doing transactions, or I fear my coins could randomly be lost it doesn’t bold well for Ethereum’s future.  I don’t mind leaving other wallets running but Ethereum just takes too much computing with SSH so it’s not practical.  I will consider Ethereum a wise investment with some risks I’ve highlighted above but for any cryptocurrency to truly be accepted and successful it must be secure, fast, reliable and easy to use (something which most cryptocurrencies still fail at if not for the reason that you require the whole blockchain to keep your money in your own possession or have to rely on dangerous uninsured third party exchanges or services that are often hacked).

As we can see below this is not a sustainable practice for cryptocurrency going forward and I will be posting more about how I think the future of crypto will be significantly different than we currently see.

Screenshot-Ethereum Wallet-19

Bitcoin – I Don’t “Get It”

This may sound strange coming from a CEO who owns and uses Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency through multiple businesses that accept Bitcoin each day.   But I still really don’t understand Bitcoin on a practical level, the technical part is understandable but for how long will the current model of currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin work?  Do not get me wrong, I am long on crypto still but what that means in the coming years and decades is probably going to be vastly different than the current model of today.

What Is A Confirmation And Why Does It Take So Long?

What I’m referring to is when you send or receive currency there are varying opinions of what it means to actually “confirm” you have it.  But even before that people who have sent and received cryptocurrency know it is actually quite slow.  It can easily take a number of minutes and even after that point it is recommended you wait for a certain amount of confirmations.

It’s quite simple, these crypto networks with multiple nodes have to talk to each other, this takes time for them to all be in sync or agreeance with the blockchain.  Once that happens you get your first confirmation, however this can be a number of minutes and still doesn’t absolutely guarantee you have the money in your wallet.

The current system is nearly impossible to use as a daily transaction/banking experience.

I’m used to using cash, debit, credit or even services like PayPal.  It is all fairly instant (although sometimes it can take several seconds for debit or credit) but once the payment is approved and the merchant is notified instantly, they knew they have their money.  Imagine waiting for even a single confirmation for cryptocurrency while in line at a supermarket?

Why does the problem exist?

It’s quite simple, ironically it’s the one huge negative side effect of distributed, decentralized cryptocurrencies.   There are other drawbacks too such as what happens to banks if they are DOS’d but this hasn’t been a huge factor so far in crypto’s history.

What other risks exist?

My biggest fear is that in the future a powerful organization or entity may eventually be able to reverse engineer or find another way to attack the blockchain and algorithm of some cryptocurrencies.  This would essentially spell disaster, chaos and the end of that currency.  It would be the equivalent of the destruction or infiltration of a fiat currency’s central banking and distribution system.

One other issue with the blockchain

Everyone knows the safest way to hold crypto is with your own wallet because exchanges are routinely hacked and coins are stolen, it is more risky to keep your coins with a third party wallet (essentially the equivalent of an online crypto bank).  The problem lays with the issue at this moment that those deposits are not insured (although I believe Coinbase and a few others may have some insurance).  This may change in the future and exchanges and currencies that are insured will definitely rise above the rest.

What is the solution?

This may draw the ire of a lot of hardcore crypto users but there has got to be some sort of central authority, body or “top-tier” network similar to root DNS servers on the internet that can serve and validate transactions on the blockchain.  There must be some sort of physical organization between the nodes on the blockchain.

Is there a current solution to this problem?

Ripple/XRP solves this problem by essentially verifying transactions instantly and keeping all the currency in essentially an online global wallet (there is no such thing as paper wallet or traditional on your computer/device wallet).  The advantage is that you don’t have to store hundreds of gigabytes of blockchain data (and growing) like Bitcoin and other currencies.  Ripple has the benefit of also being endorsed by major financial institutions which is a first for digital crypto that I’m aware of.

I haven’t done further research but currencies like XRP I believe are the future, things can be done anyway technically and Bitcoin, Litecoin and similar blockchained coins can do this if they change some of their decentralized model.  I expect there will be more infighting and similar splits as the Bitcoin Cash that emerged from the Segwit update as the industry matures and expands.

Disclaimer

I hold positions in multiple cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Ripple and have given my true opinion of both in this article.

How to disable Google Fonts on your website

The problem check the source code by viewing your website.
Click “View Source”

Then click the link on any “.css” at the top or search for “googlefontapis.com”

In the .css file you can see this:

#before doing any of this backup your original .css

@import url(“https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800”);

This is a problem and what stops your site from being viewed in China!  Since CSS files are usually called first before even displaying html this is why your users think the site is blocked or why you may falsely believe your site is blocked when it is simply the CSS font URL call that is causing it.

How to fix it:

For each Google Font Api download it as a file for example above manually entering this into your browser.
Or you can use this command in Linux:

wget https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800
Save the file as “compevo-google-css.css” or whatever you like:

Inside the file you will see the following:

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: italic;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Italic’), local(‘OpenSans-Italic’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Regular’), local(‘OpenSans-Regular’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 700;
src: local(‘Open Sans Bold’), local(‘OpenSans-Bold’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 800;
src: local(‘Open Sans ExtraBold’), local(‘OpenSans-ExtraBold’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}

#########

for each url download the font manually:

Based on the above I made a quick script to help:

for font in `cat cssgoogle.css|grep “.ttf”|cut -d “,” -f 3|awk ‘{print $1}’|sed s#url\(##g|sed s#\)##g`; do
wget –no-check-certificate $font
done

#will download all the fonts like below

https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf

#comment out the original

@import url(“https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800”);

#add the following modified code to the top of the original css file:
Change the paths to suit where you downloaded these .ttf files:
#in general you are going to be searching and replacing “https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/” with “/some/to/your/ttffonts”

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: italic;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Italic’), local(‘OpenSans-Italic’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Regular’), local(‘OpenSans-Regular’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 700;
src: local(‘Open Sans Bold’), local(‘OpenSans-Bold’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 800;
src: local(‘Open Sans ExtraBold’), local(‘OpenSans-ExtraBold’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}

Issues with Buying from China

I’ve been buying things from China for years both in person and online and can tell you there are both very honest people, companies and also just as many if not more who are not honest. Herein lays what I believe is one of China’s biggest issue to sustainable cross-border e-Commerce in my opinion and experience.

One of the biggest issues still exists today on say Aliexpress, you want to buy a pair of pants for your kids or wife, or a carpet. They show you fantastic looking pictures and my wife asks if I think it’s a good idea. My answer is always “If the picture they show is really what you get and the other specs and sizes are correct then yes”. I’ve gone for an advid consumer to a skeptical one who tends to buy more locally or from more trusted sources and known brands for certain items.

The first time I remember encountering this was buying a nice Hello Kitty for my daughter. What we received had a completely different design and outfit. The seller as per normal from China “apologized and promised a discount next time”. This is what scares me about their business model. I replied and said they have to give us a discount now or there won’t be a next time. They broke my trust by sending the wrong item and then expected future business without making this issue right. This has happened enough times from eBay and Aliexpress that I rarely buy anything because the hassle of disputing and trying to get your money back is just not worth it especially since so many items are not as pictured or even the correct size or of horrible quality. You end saying for the time and hassle there are no savings there’s no point in ordering anything.

For example if I’m looking for a certain make and model and electronic and the seller is known to sell authentic goods then I have no issue buying it because I know I’ll get exactly what I expect and paid for with no hassle (usually……… more on this later). So this is how I’ve proceeded, generally with good luck knowing that there are fakes of almost every electronic, obviously some things are more or less likely to be faked.

The impetus for this article started when I first embarked on a journey to buy a popular Chinese phone the One Plus 5 with 8GB/128GB in September. I tried to buy it from GeekBuying ( a highly recommended site on internet forums ) only to be told that they won’t honor the price and randomly want more money. The amount they asked for actually became more than purchasing from other sellers at the time.

Here is what happened at GeekBuying and they refused to honor the price and then proceeded to offer a discount code that actually made items cost more.

Thank you for shopping at Geekbuying.
We are so sorry that the Oneplus 5 A5000 cost has increased. Really apologize about this embarrassment situation and we hope that you agree to make up the difference $25 and we can continue the shipment as soon as possible.
Please note that the extra difference is already with 20% discount which Geekbuying takes the partial responsibility.
Would you like us to send you the email link to pay 25$?
Looking forward to your early reply.
Inconvenience regretted.

Cecilia
Customer Service Representative
Geekbuying
www.geekbuying.com

Asking around on Reddit and searching showed this is a common practice at least with phones with Geekbuying. I had to open a PayPal dispute because they would not provide a refund when I asked for it.

GeekBuying.com Price Increase Scam from chinaphones

 

So what next – I tried GearBest.com

GearBest is also a highly recommended place to buy mentioned all over the internet so I paid $539.99 from there.  It has now been 34 days and I haven’t received the phone.  Attempts at getting answers from them just refer me to “check the tracking and wait” essentially even though their 22-25 business days period has now expired.  Some have accused GearBest of giving out fake tracking numbers and hoping people don’t follow up on their orders.  I think this may be possible, I was given a tracking number from Singapore Post, it shows an item arrived in Canada about 3 weeks ago but Canada Post has no record of it at all.  It’s really not normal for Singapore Post to take this long.  As a final resort I’ve opened a dispute with Paypal to which there has been no response for.  Fearing this is truly a scam I’ve shown everything to PayPal and am awaiting their decision and I truly hope their buying protection works.

I never imagined this would happen to me or that I’d receive nothing at all with a potentially fake tracking number.

Customer service from most of the sellers of I’ve had issues with in China has been either unresponsive, unhelpful or even rude.

So what now?

This experience has kind of been the tipping point of my opinion of dealing in ecommerce with Chinese sellers.  The level of trust, honesty and service is woefully lacking and I believe is a huge threat to China’s business going forward.  If these sellers want a long-term sustainable business they simply have to change their ways as buyers like me are completely turned off and moved away from buying items from China for fear of being scammed and the hassle and frustration that goes along with it.

A lot of the manufacturers do not seem to be interested in knowing that their so-called resellers or distributors are not being honest or fair.  In fact when complaining about issues from both to OnePlus and Vorke, neither company replied or commented at all.

This kind of practice is simply unsustainable and if people like me will no longer buy from China others will follow.  It’s only a matter of time before fake reviews, blog posts and forums will catch up with unscrupulous companies and it unfortunately taints the entire industry and hurts everyone.

I’ve learned my lesson I will definitely not buy from other websites unless someone I personally know can assure me their experience has been good.  I will continue to stick to eBay and Aliexpress but will continue to be careful and try to buy as little as possible.  Whenever possible I now favor a more local seller who I trust over an overseas seller.

China’s eCommerce is still maturing and to put it in perspective there was a time when eBay was full of scams too.  It takes time to get it right but hopefully this happens sooner than later.  As always in general, buyer beware of internet reviews and recommendations and this will continue to change the online marketing landscape and trust factor.

IoT (Internet of Things) Security Issues Increase

IoT (Internet of Things) is simply a fancy way of expressing that we have more devices online and connected to the internet than ever before when compared to my favorite tradition of Desktop PCs, Tablets and Phones. With the advent of embedded computing becoming more affordable, powerful and easier to develop than ever using tools like Raspberry Pi based on the ARM platform, this means we have a plethora of new devices and embedded, internet connected devices added to every day things we use.

Common examples of these are new cars, alarm systems, video cameras/surveillance systems, fridges, stoves, home locks, lights, watches, medical equipment and so much more.
The security issue with these devices is more challenging and complex than ever before for both the end user and businesses using them.

There is no doubt or anyone in denial that it’s an issue and the privacy, security and financial risks can be quite high. Security in general works on the basis of weakest link and it is arguable that a random internet connected device in your house or business poses an immense security risk with some of these devices having little to no security or out in the wild vulnerabilities.

These devices are certainly not impossible to secure, in fact the majority of them are easy to secure but it’s simply not the forefront or priority of most device makers or developers. Because of this devices are often completely unsecured and don’t even need to be hacked, sometimes they run a telnet,ssh or web daemon which can be accessed with no password or a dictionary password like admin/admin root/root or with just a username. There are others which cannot be easily updated which have vulnerabilities that end up being found later and exploited. Even more difficult some of these devices are physically inaccessible and installed in appliances and other devices where it can be harder to update them. A lot of companies would be reluctant to push out updates because often if the update failed it would render the device useless without physical intervention.

We can only hope standards emerge in the industry where updates will be easier, standard and guaranteed but this is unlikely to happen. Even with companies who use these products and recognize it is an issue there is only so much planning that can be done for devices that are not easily managed or accessible.

The only practical solution today is to try to firewall and physically isolate IoT devices where ever possible to reduce the risk (but for a lot of companies this is not easy or practical). At the end of the day more advanced network planning and management will be required and so will hardware firewalls play an ever increasing role in trying to prevent and detect attacks to these devices.

Trading Cryptocurrency Emotionally Is Good For Me and Bad For You!

With all the hype of cryptocurrency driving all of the coins it creates both opportunities and risks depending on where you’ve bought in and your emotional state.
Emotional buying is for example hearing Bitcoin has hit $6000 USD and then buying it worrying that it is your last chance. In reality buying into new highs doesn’t leave a lot of room for comfortable declines which is why I never buy new highs but patiently wait for a strong pullback. But we must always remember the famous proverbs of “Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy”, “Be Greedy When Others Are Fearful”, “Sharp Rises Are Often Followed By Sharp Corrections”, “What Goes Up Must Come Down” which depending on the time period in general means manage risk, do not trade on emotion, and be prepared that markets can turn either way without warning or in a sudden bearish or bullish trend. If all goes wrong just remember “Buy Low, Sell High” of course as simple as these terms are very few of us actually do or achieve such simple sayings as the end result is often more complex based on a lack of discipline or abundance of emotion.

I fully agree with the many parties that say cryptocurrency is extremely risk, volatile and does trade like the stock market with even less safety and regulation. Therefore my approach is to treat such trading as extremely high risk stock investment with the goal of limiting risk and exposure.

In the case of Bitcoin if you look the chart for the past few years it has been extremely volatile and has had numerous crashes. A lot of people made a lot of money by holding and believing in the long-term value, but just as many lost huge amounts by panicking and selling off at the bottom. At the end of the day the best of us cannot always predict that we know the top or bottom of a market. Instead it is important to look at the fundamentals. Bitcoin is still #1 by market cap today, unless it were specifically banned around the world or the entire network or blockchain itself was compromised there’s no reason to panic based on this kind of emotion. I echo a similar sentiment when people rush to the markets when Bitcoin is the news when things are flying high is when you have the most risk. Before some of you think I’m suggesting to be a contrarian on a fundamental market I’m just saying you shouldn’t fight the trend or the market but be sensible. If you’ve made your own research or belief that a currency is in a bullish upswing then wait for an opportunity such as the “sharp correction” that has been the trend with large rises in cryptocurrency.

Stick to your plan unless the fundamentals have changed so unless Bitcoin has been banned around the world or the blockchain has been compromised or some other fundamental value of Bitcoin has been eroded it doesn’t make sense to dump it on a sharp decline (well it’s good for me and other holders) but for yourself it would probably disastrous.

I am mainly quoting Bitcoin but whenever I watch the charts of the top currencies by market cap I see a very similar trend usually, that often all currencies will be diving or climbing at the same time as a generalization.

The above strategy is only for coins that you have reason or proof have real value and long-term viability. If you have invested in a new ICO and could realize a large profit shortly after I would sell a large portion of that position and continue to hold. In that way you’ve maximized your profit and limited your risk exposure.

I’m going to give you an example of when I bought into some Litecoin. I noticed a sharp decline that eventually hit 5% Monday morning just after midnight and keep watching it. Once the market hit -5% and climbed to -4.5% I bought without regret even though I observed later on the day the decline hit as high as about -8-10%. Obviously buying lower would have been better but in recent trends I’ve seen fast recoveries I was happy with the likelihood that Litecoin would recover my 4.5% discount and more in a few days and it has currently risen to +5.89%. Not a bad spread for less than 24 hours! I think the key is not to be greedy and try to plan what the purpose is.

In my case I am watching some of the top 20 coins in market cap and looking for the chance to trade some Litecoins as they go up and some of the others decline to maximize profit and minimize risk.

Going back to the point of the article is that try not to be emotional when buying or selling, but know that everyone’s actions create an opportunity on either side.

Good luck to all of my fellow traders and please share your thoughts and strategies in the comments!

Disclaimer I am by no means giving out financial or trading advice and am simply giving my opinion, experience and rational for my personal decisions.

Losing Chinese Business Because of 2 Simple Mistakes

This is not an article about the market condition in China but more of a practical reality that I think most people and businesses have not considered. If you read the news you’ll feel the first impediment to business in China is going to be regulations or that your website may be blocked by the GFW (Great Firewall of China). However in practical terms this is something you’ll almost never encounter. There are however 2 simple but huge, crucial and critical mistakes that most businesses make when trying to attract prospective Chinese customers for overseas or cross-border e-Commerce.

#1 Common Mistake That Guarantees No Customers From China Will Ever Reach Your Site
Everyone knows Google has extensive reach in various online services and platforms including search but their reach goes farther in a very harmful way for anyone trying to get Chinese visitors to their website. This issue applies to almost any user in China whether they are a local or foreigner and whether you are hosting in China, Hong Kong or anywhere outside. This problem can only be resolved by an experienced web developer or team and is a mistake MOST developers unknowingly make.

This little mistake comes from the fonts specified in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) that are used to style and/or layout all websites on the internet. CSS itself is not the problem, but what is the problem is that a lot of designers use “Google Font APIs” from googleapis.com. This is a bad idea in my opinion aside from the main reason which is that you rely on a third outside party to make sure your website loads. If the remotely hosted fonts cannot be loaded due to a change in location or the server goes down, your website will not load. In the case of China on virtually all consumer grade connections “googleapis.com” is blocked, this means the third party font server is as good as down and your website WILL not load in China because of it.

Essentially what this means is that any website using Google Font APIs will not work in China no matter where it is hosted. The solution is to edit your CSS code and use alternative fonts, or to manually download the .ttf and edit your .css files.

#2 Hosting your site outside of Mainland China or Hong Kong is too slow
For those who have ever visited China, loading sites abroad such as in the US or even worse in Europe is a very difficult hit and miss experience. While most sites are actually not blocked by the GFW, a good portion of sites and services are unusable due to poor connectivity between China and a lot of ISPs. This can be solved somewhat with premium bandwidth that we use in China but really the best solution is to host your site in Mainland China or Hong Kong.

For those familiar with China, you will know that you need an ICP license from the Ministry of IT. This is not a problem if you have a presence in China or a friend who can help. But really the only legal way is to get a proper ICP license which means based on your business and not a personal ICP (we have seen these revoked for misuse). To make it short, if you don’t have an ICP in China your site will not work and will be blocked. So hosting your website in China is only an option if you have an ICP license.

The next best thing is Premium bandwidth from Hong Kong with direct China connectivity which is almost as good as being in Mainland China. But note the “Premium Bandwidth” and “Direct China Connectivity” because only some providers have this. Bandwidth is very expensive in Hong Kong and the only way providers can save money is by buying non-premium bandwidth that routes all China traffic through the USA. For cost it makes sense for those providers, but for you the end user and business who wants to have Chinese customers it doesn’t make sense unless you have direct China peering/connectivity. If you have a good connection to China from Hong Kong then users can essentially expect your site to perform as if it’s in Mainland China, in fact most users will probably feel it is located in China because of the low latency and fast response. In Hong Kong there is no requirement for an ICP license so this is really the best method for those who can’t the ICP license in China.

Don’t Lose Out
For companies who have targeted the Chinese market and have attempted to drive traffic to their own website or third party portal if you haven’t received the response you’ve expected the above could very well be why you have no Chinese customers. In another blog post I will show a few technical examples of how to fix it and still use Google Font APIs although the easiest, quickest fix is to stop using them.

Is China Still A Hot Economy?

In the past 10 years I’ve spent a lot of time in China doing business. It depends how you quantify things but I can speak anecdotally and from experience.

China’s GDP growth is no longer double digit

China’s GDP has dropped from the double digit miracle of 10.1% in 2010 to 6.1% in 2016. In terms of numbers there is no doubt China is slowing down but still 6% growth is nothing to complain about. Why so? Because the miracle that is between 10-15 years behind China in Southeast Asia for example is showing similar growth.
Malaysia in 2016 was 4.2% which is a fair drop compared to 2010’s 7.5%. Indonesia follows a similar trend with 2016 being 5.0% and 2010 being 6.4%. We can see a general trend in Asia especially that China is following with moderating GDP but the hype would have you believe otherwise. Don’t get me wrong Southeast is undoubtedly poised for huge growth, it’s just that the hype would have you believe there is double digit growth that hasn’t arrived just yet.

Changes Have Happened
Of course this is no surprise, the Chinese government itself planned for this and stated that double digit GDP is not sustainable into the future. China’s stated goal has essentially been to transform themselves from a labor based economy to a knowledge based economy with internal consumption largely sustaining this. To the credit of China I think they’ve largely achieved this. The evidence is everywhere with constantly rising wages, Chinese citizens are becoming more affluent, buying more expensive items and high end goods have flooded the Mainland and they are intended for the locals. This presents a huge opportunity for companies who have such items on offer.

Missing from the above picture are things I’ve heard from friends and colleagues. A lot of manufacturing companies have packed up shop due to rising costs including labor and moved to Southeast Asian locations. In turn there are less jobs for expatriates than in previous times and with rising living costs in China it has been less attractive to some business sectors and expatriates alike. With less production from the labor force in China, it’s only inevitable that the GDP has moderated.

It’s not all bad
A lot of people have said that some companies entered the Chinese market because it was so lucrative and with less competition. Today that’s no longer true as China’s economy has matured and the country itself has been modernizing and changing at break-neck pace. The one unintended impact is that this also created an environment of uncertainty for some businesses and sectors.

However, it’s not all bad depending on who you ask. China’s ecommerce market is thriving, in fact part of the reason why some companies are no longer there is because just like the West (but even moreso in China) the digital economy and internet have literally transformed and revolutionized the country. What worked yesterday is no longer valid or effective today and this is a general statement for how things are done in China (things move fast!).

Stats in China showed the ecommerce grew by 26.2% in 2016 for a whopping 5.16Trillion RMB/CNY! In fact ecommerce in China is said to represent 15% of ALL retail sales in China and of course these numbers are only expected to increase.

So is China still hot?
It depends from who’s perspective, internal consumption is rising, so are wages, GDP is still fairly high and eCommerce continues to be a huge factor in China. If someone wanted to get into eCommerce in China or offer goods to the growing middle and affluent class in China I would say it’s still hot. As always it is best to diversify and not rely on a single economy.

Countries where cryptocurrency, coins, tokens and ICOs are banned

There has been a lot of activity lately in the world with governments banning cryptocurrency and ICOs but this should come as no surprise as there has been strongly worded messaging about this for some time.

China bans ICOs and shuts down Exchanges
This had a massive impact on the valuations of coins such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherum, Dash etc.. but things have since recovered since the 2017/09/04 law passed in China but serves as a warning and example of what government intervention can and cannot do.

http://en.people.cn/n3/2017/0904/c90000-9264331.html

Chinese authorities on Monday ordered a ban on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a nascent form of fundraising in which technology start-ups issue their own digital coins, or “tokens”, to investors to access funds as the rapidly expanding market spawned concerns over financial risks.

Starting Monday, ICO activities should be halted, and ICO platforms should not engage in exchange services between fiat currencies, virtual coins and tokens, said a statement from the People’s Bank of China.

South Korea Bans ICOs

The good news is that while ICOs are banned it does not appear that trading in the currencies themselves is banned.
http://www.nasdaq.com/article/south-koreas-ico-ban-a-reaction-to-serious-concerns-over-cryptocurrency-investment-practices-cm854236

In fact it appears South Korea plans to allow trading but wants more regulation and safeguards:

South Korea Makes it Legal to Transfer Cryptocurrencies Internationally

Singapore

Although not by law, many companies in Singapore dealing in cryptocurrency have had their accounts closed:

https://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2017/september/singapore-banks-closing-accounts-of-cryptocurrency-firms/

Countries subject to strict or promising strict regulations

Nearly every country has taken a similar line where they are making a legal framework and claiming that ICOs are subject to the same laws and rules as IPOs. However this doesn’t appear to have been translated into law. It also doesn’t address the question of how holders on the coins will be impacted but one would guess that in the future they may be subject to capital gains tax and treated like traditional stock investments.

This list of countries includes:
EU, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore and many other countries around the world.

Hong Kong Regulators Warn ICO Tokens May be Securities Under the Law

SEC: ICO Tokens Like Those of The DAO are Securities Subject to Regulations

Canadian Regulators Say Cryptocurrency ICO/ITO May be Subject to Securities Law

Is the regulation valid, practical and legal?

This is a hard call for me to understand in the sense that these cryptocurrencies are just that, digital currency and currently people are not taxed or penalized for simply exchanging, buying and/or holding different currencies.

It may also be interesting to see what the large exchanges, businesses and users do in response such as unprecedented regulation and laws. It may be that some of the regulations and laws imposed around the world may be found invalid or unenforceable in the end.

What are your thoughts and as always please let me know if I’ve missed any new developments around the laws of cryptocurrency.

Google Pixel 2 for Business Use?

Source http://areebyasir.com/?p=218

I have to start off by saying I am surprised at the specs or lack of them right out of the box I wouldn’t buy because there is no value there and no compelling features over the average phone. The entry level 5″ model comes in at $899 and the XL 6″ at $1159 USD. What is especially disappointing is the lackluster 4GB of RAM in both models this is quite shocking for a flagship phone I would say it is a low-end phone in terms of RAM which is a big deal to me and I think most people. If you don’t have enough RAM your apps will slow down and start swapping. There is also nothing that I see is groundbreaking in this phone compared to the iPhone-X.

If this phone came in at a budget price I’d say it would be a good value but like many, I am comparing it against flagship Chinese phones such as my OnePlus 5 that I recently bought. In comparison my One Plus 5 came in at $540 USD has 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and dual-SIM slot (very hand when traveling abroad/on business).

I think Google is going to be creating more work for itself and it needs to decide if it’s competing against the OnePlus or Apple because both are very different types of market segments and this phone fits into the middle of the pack in terms of specs but at a premium price. It just doesn’t make sense because these phones don’t carry any prestige that say a Samsung or Apple would.

I’m sorry for not going into more depth but for the way I purchase I had to stop at the 4GB of RAM I cannot believe any 2017 flagship phone would have such little memory.
The Pixel 2 looks like a good phone but it is overpiced and underspec’d and usually I say specs are not an issue but at that price point it certainly is and I’d say the iPhone-X is the better value. Think of it this way though you could almost buy 2 OnePlus 5’s with 8GB of RAM for the price of one Pixel 2.