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This week - in Shenzhen, China
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Prof Trevor Marshall
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 Posted: Sat Feb 12th, 2011 19:42

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Well, I am in Shenzhen, China. Regardless of why I am here (please don't ask) I am like a kid in a candy store here. Shenzhen is at the heart of China's economic powerhouse. Wikipedia has a good info page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shenzhen

I flew into Hong Kong, and 15 hours non-stop is a mind-numbing experience. As John Denver wrote:
It's a long way from LA to Denver
It's a long time to hang in the sky
and I never cease to be amazed at how those 747's just seem to manage to hang  in the sky for 15+ hours without a hiccup...

I took the ferry from the Hong Kong airport to Shenzhen, avoiding customs at Hong Kong. They have a seamless system of ferry transfers there - very nice indeed. I couldn't get a good look at the ferry, but here is my best shot at it :)



Luckily I didn't have to use the life-jacket, as the 'hostess' gave the safety demonstration in Chinese,  before selling the noodles (& etc) to the passengers :)

We all talk about how the Chinese have done a wonderful job copying the best from the West, and then improving it. Well, Brits would regard as sacrilege the double-decker busses in Shenzhen. Sleek, modern and efficient. Much nicer than those in London...




Due to 'my former life', I feel like a kid in a candy shop here. I wish I had been developing computers and other electronic good within the infrastructure here in Shenzhen. Everything for the geek designer is at one's fingertips. And the specialization is interesting. Here is a shop selling only iPhone speakers:



And, for the real geek seeking to resurrect that old laptop - this shop sells only laptop batteries and power-bricks. They have hundreds lining their windows and shelves:



This shop was one of the hundreds in the S.E.G. Plaza, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEG_Plaza

I bought some capacitors and other bits for the new stereo amplifier I am building in my spare time. Like a kid in a candy shop, what more can I say?

Anyway, i have to prepare for meetings, but will try to update this thread as I can :)

..Trevor..

Ron
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 01:37

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I bought some capacitors and other bits for the new stereo amplifier I am building in my spare time. Like a kid in a candy shop, what more can I say?
Are you saying you still have time for hobbies..?!! :P

Thanks for the nice travel update. Beautiful pictures! Next time we should send you a shopping list. ;)

Enjoy your time over there.

Ron

tammy1000
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 05:55

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Thanks for sharing the photos and some of your experiences.

I had an illness before I had a career. So I hope that with the MP, I have a "future life" to complement my "former education."

Best Regards,

P.S. The expression "don't ask" naturally makes everyone wonder about what exactly you are doing.



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Cynthia S
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 09:12

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This concentration of variety in such a  specialized area is interesting.  Here in the US, I see the opposite happening.  Stores are moving out of the limited interest items, and dealing in the more profitable faster moving items.  I think the internet sourcing is the reason.  Specialty items are now accessed on the internet so easily.  Radioshack is selling finished electronics now and you will have a hard time finding the variety of parts you used to find there.  Even the electronic surplus stores are going out of business.  Does anyone remember C&H surplus in Pasadena, CA?  Boy do I miss that place.  Looks like this place has a lot of what I used to find at C&H, http://www.surplusshed.com/

Cynthia



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ChrisMavo
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 11:14

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I love the travelogue and photos every time you travel Dr Marshall!  It is easy to see why you feel like a "kid in a candy shop" there!  It is my view that the number of large box stores ... like Walmart or Best Buy ... have killed off many of the small shops that used to dot our cities like they still have in Shenzen!  That plus the online internet effect that Cynthia mentioned above.

But thanks for sharing the great photos and impressions!  You certainly have a very appreciative audience back here, many of us almost totally homebound! 



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Prof Trevor Marshall
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 13:15

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I am not sure that the difference is the big-store effect. Here is a blog explaining a little more: http://bit.ly/NP2f
and another: http://bit.ly/eEOH7m

Walmart exists here (maybe they just ripped off the name, I can't tell) but it is a collection of hundreds of small retailers under one roof, rather than a big box store.

The key unusual thing here is the components markets. Frys and C&H at their peak never reached this level. Here is a group of stores selling reels of surface mount components - there must be millions of seperate devices in each of these shops -- and there was a whole floor dedicated to them...




here is a blown-up area from the shop in the center, so you can see the hundreds of reels of surface-mount components:




I was shopping for 10 microfarad polyester capacitors (with leads), inter alia, and fossicked around multiple vendors until I found one the size that I wanted. So for people who are creating circuitry, this is a great resource. Which is why iPods, and so many Western electronics items, come from Shenzhen. As the standard of living rises in Shenzhen factories are moving elsewhere, however, following the cheaper wages and more entrapped workforce.

Capitalism... Sigh...

ChrisMavo
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 13:27

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My late father loved electronics and had his own small TV/Radio repair business.  I helped him out when I was young.. mainly going on house calls and testing/swapping out old vacuum tubes!  We also built a few Heathkit stereos and stuff!  All great experience for a kid!  My father would have LOVED being around today and wandering the streets of Shenzhen with you!!

I imagine that most of the factories will flee to low-income labor pools when the standard of living gets too high!  Sad fact of today's globalization I am afraid.

Enjoy your electronics candy shop wanderings and the trip!



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y
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 13:42

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Thanks from me as well for the vicarious travel experience.

I was listening to John Denver when I opened the thread -  Back Home Again, though, so I guess the statisticians wouldn't be that impressed. I was, though, because a rare occasion for me to be doing either.

I've been surprised Ace Hardware has held on against Lowe's and Home Depot - but I hope they stick around. They carry the specialty screws that make or break being able to fix something.



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Deedee
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 16:01

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Send more photos when you can! I wish I was there, too!



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rick
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 Posted: Sun Feb 13th, 2011 18:54

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Had a conversation with some muso mates and we talked about our early guitar amps, I had an amp I reckon in 1969 -1972 that I bought which was built by an Adelaide guy, I’m sure it’s heritage was from “Largs Pier”, I remember it fondly with its huge red hot tubes that had that beautiful smell when driven hard with fantastic gain and distortion, a real blues breaker!   I wish I still had it.  I wonder if you were the electronic geek that made it?  The electronic geeks from the Pier days were much sought after by the music heavyweights of the time as you would know.
A wander around those Shenzhen component shops must be a mind blower for an amp builder



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GeorgeinRollaMO
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 Posted: Mon Feb 14th, 2011 12:23

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Ah! Trevor, to do Los Angeles to Hong Kong in only 15 hours... you lucked out!!! :D  It all depends upon the jet stream velocities.  Even, going by way of Alaska to avoid them.  Going "direct" would take much longer on almost every flight.

You might have had a 16 1/2 hours, or more, flight(s).  You might have had to drop in to Taiwan for fuel.   Then, you would have had two flights instead of one.  :D  And, gotten your money's worth. ;)  And, you really missed out on thrills by not going into the older Kai Tak airport, flying below the skyscapers on the appoach, and missing "Checkerboard Square". :X  [There are some rather interesting videos of this approach on the Web, if you are interested.]

Reading this column sure brought back memories of my last two years of flying the 747-400's.

Glad that you are having fun in the "candy store". :D

Trevor you said, "Capitalism... Sigh..."  Do I detect an interest in something else?  The Chinese would not respect your brain's turning out something new or really worthwhile.  The do not respect patent protection law.  They copy and sell without thought to the patent protection laws.... sigh!  However, I would go along with shorter such protection... and no renewals... especially for medicines.

Wishing you, and all, wellness!!! :D

Dark Vader... aka, George

P.S. I am back doing the MP after a two to three month respite.  Will report, yet.  I promise!  Just got on Friday my last, concluding document of the legal problem that I have been in since April '08.  I won my point, thankfully!

 



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Prof Trevor Marshall
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 Posted: Mon Feb 14th, 2011 13:32

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George, congrats on winning the legal tussle :)

I did actually fly into the Hong Kong's Kai Tak airport back 30 years ago, and I remember seeing the skyscrapers just a few hundred yards from the wingtips, and much taller than we were. Similarly for the old Berlin airport, that was an equally startling experience the first time I flew into it.

I used to fly to Australia via Hawaii on the DC-10, and the stop for an hour or two was great - walking in the Japanese garden at the Hawaii airport, in the midnight rain, was a very pleasant change from sitting in an aircraft :)

On final approach to the new HongKong runways I was surprised by the number of oil-rigs, and their size -- at least one had a tanker refueling at it. Apparently most of the (foreign) oil-rig personnel live in an area of Shenzhen called "Shekou."
 
Tammy -- about the "don't ask." You might recall last February (2010), I told everybody we would have a big announcement to make in a few weeks. Well, here it is a year later and still no announcement. It turned out that the discovery was a lot bigger and more important than I had realized at the beginning. Now, a year later, we are getting closer to being able to make the announcement to all our members. But not quite yet. Maybe it will take even another two or three months, as we get all the details into place.

So here is my photo from yesterday, in a simple set of clean-room clothing, not the final 'bunny-suit' which looked even more comical when squeezed tightly over my suit-coat. Again, please don't ask :) But enjoy the rather comical picture of me with a (rare) smile on my face...


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 Posted: Mon Feb 14th, 2011 14:41

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You look ready to whip up some biscuits. LOL. And you are so cruel to tease us all with "don't ask." Not even a hint?



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Prof Trevor Marshall
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 Posted: Mon Feb 14th, 2011 15:28

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Yes, that's it -- very important biscuits :)
Perhaps -- fortune cookies saying "after the IP is over, you will have a long and happy life" :) :)
 

terrylmcc
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 Posted: Mon Feb 14th, 2011 15:33

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Hi Dr Marshall. I sure we can all agree, not to ask why you are there. I only hope its not for any unfortunate circumstances. And I will call it IP, my curiosity is off the charts. Love the pictures, always like to know what you are up to. Best Terry
PS, will take sublingual benicar to ease the curiosity. :) :) kidding of course ;)



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Prof Trevor Marshall
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 Posted: Tue Feb 15th, 2011 08:04

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"Oh .. No" I said, when I saw this display in a local mall "They are promoting Easter already."

But no, this is a New Year display. Chinese New Year runs from 3rd Feb to 15th Feb, and this year is the year of the rabbit. And a rather cute rabbit at that :)





A street vendor cooks hot food on the back platform of a bicycle, an activity attracting more customers than the upscale handbag store in the background.

I am flying home on Thursday 15th, missing the final day of New Year celebrations, but never mind, I have seen enough fireworks celebrating the New Year to get the picture already.. :)

 

ChristineL
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 Posted: Tue Feb 15th, 2011 10:10

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My 7 year old daughter was just asking about Chinese New Year and was insisting that it lasts for several days (I didn't know).   I can't wait to show her this picture of with the bunny for the holiday.  She will love it!  Thanks for posting it.



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scooker48
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 Posted: Tue Feb 15th, 2011 10:54

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Dr. Marshall,

Travel safely--I have you "in the air" until you land at LAX.

The Chinese say the year of the rabbit (or hare) is a very lucky year.  I forsee that to be true.

One of your greatest fans,

Sherry


Last edited on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 11:24 by scooker48



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Prof Trevor Marshall
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 Posted: Tue Feb 15th, 2011 22:09

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I slept solidly last night - 12 hours - the trip was catching up with me, I think :) Anyway, this morning I took the Metro (a short 15 minute walk from the hotel) in to the electronic shopping area again. Shenzhen Metro is new and sleek, RFID tokens from the ticket machine (which has selectable English menus) are easy to handle. You can't fall off the platform because there is a glass wall enclosing the train lines, much like in modern airports. See the yellow feet on the floor? You line up there to enter the carriage, while people pour out the middle of the doorway.





I wanted to check out some new buildings, set back from the main road, which also were selling components when I noticed them yesterday... I should have realized this was the professional marketing area by the very orderly layout of the stalls:



Here is an enlargement of two stalls from the center of that photo:




I approached a vendor who was selling KBP307 rectifiers, and asked him "How Much"
"0.4 Yuan each" was the reply (about 4 cents)
"Can I have four, please?" I said
"You mean four thousand?" he replied, looking puzzled.

Oops - I wasn't in Kansas any more, this was clearly the big time :) So I politely took his business card and wandered back to the SEG Plaza, where I had to pay 3 Yuan for all four (50 cents).

At that point I figured that the setup we have in the USA, order from Ebay or DigiKey, is remarkably time-efficient, compared with having to keep up with all the Billions of components stocked here at the markets (yes, Billions, I have seen more components in the last few days than I ever dreamed existed on the planet -- reel upon reel of every SMT imaginable...


So how do you advertise that you sell LEDs? Well, display the very brightest ones you have, I guess:




Of course, your LEDs are so bright they blind the eye, and the camera :X But the point is taken, yes...

Finally, I was about to have some Doner Kebab for lunch (I love lamb) when I noticed the meat on the roaster looked more like chicken breasts than lamb...




Oops, oh well... better get ready to catch the plane, I just received the email reminding me to check-in electronically :)
 

ChrisMavo
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 Posted: Tue Feb 15th, 2011 23:25

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Thanks for sharing Dr Marshall!  Interesting photos and observations.  Darn a good lamb doner kabab sounds good about now!!  Very similar to Greek Souvlaki.  We used to go to a place in Athens, recommended by my family, where they have the BEST lamb souvlaki in Greece!  Someday I'll be back there to enjoy another!  :D

Have a good trip home!

Last edited on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 23:28 by ChrisMavo



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