My school life in U.S. ended last week when I decided to head back to China, the country where I was born, yet the country where the center of all the conflicts buried under the peaceful surface. After spent the night at Doha International Airport and enjoyed my Beef Curry, I connected another airline, feeling like I was the only one in the sky. Dear airline, you should really arrange your flight schedule better to minimize the expense.
Home sweet home, but not yet. What’s changed? You live a different life here, and some enjoy some don’t. Yet it’s hard to define and grass is always greener on the other side. I don’t miss my days in New York, and I am much more looking forward to live in Japan, like most of the friends who are consistently visit TheAkiba are. And before I sketching my dream of living in the Yamato country, I should probably better talking about the daily life in this country now instead.
One thing that prevents me from loving the country is the Internet. We have a great Internet firewall system not to protect you from hackers and viruses, but to prevent information from entering the border of the country.
The great firewall system has a name the same as the Wonder of the World in the country, and elegantly resembles the predecessor’s objective which is to protect the King’s kingdom from foreign invasion. And the best part is, like the predecessor was built with pure human, the latter was built by taxpayers’ money.
We can’t hate the people who came up with the idea of building such a incubate system in an economy scale, since they created some ten job positions for the 1.3 billion people in the country. But when they laughed their way to the bank and cashed their checks, it is us who pay the bill, and of course, tax.
The great firewall is like the SOPA in U.S., but much worse. You can stand out and protest against SOPA before you win, but sadly, we didn’t even get a chance. SOPA is about privacy issue, which is basically the default setting in this ancient country. The great firewall blocks sites to only allow select information come in through the petty pipeline the criteria for which is hard yet simple to define in this case.
Google is gone.
Basically most of the Google services that I use frequently were either shut down globally or gone in the country, the remaining is either slow or throwing you some random errors. Luckily, we are able to access the Google Hong Kong server for the search engine function since the local alternative is incompetent to my needs, even though it runs into error which you can presume from time to time. We need to live a life here, even with the slowness of Gmail and Google Analytics.
No Facebook, no Twitter, no Google+, no Hootsuite, no Feedly.
Most oversea social media are gone in the country, including some related third party clients like HootSuite which are able to view those social streams. Luckily, there are always ways around in this difficult situation, for example, by using other third party tools and Email we would be able to get access to those topics the country do not want us to know. I don’t want to talk about too many political topics here, but Feedly is also blocked for whatever reason.
No Things Sync.
On my Mac, I use Things to manage all my tasks and the sync feature is a godsend since it won’t cost you a dime compared with similar services. And when back to the country, I simply don’t get why Things’ cloud server is blocked, probably it was host on Google. Yes, Google is also gone in this great country but we do get our last chance of accessing to the Google Hong Kong server. Guess I have to switch to Apple’s Reminders since Apple is much better at giving the greedy folks things they want and that’s something Google need to learn. Evernote is good, though I am not very interested in the local version of the service.
To round up, most of the services supporting the sites, either TheAkiba and ThemeFortress are blocked. And luckily, the two sites themselves can still be accessed. All these can be easily solved by either move to another country or simply buy a VPN (affiliate link to a Chinese VPN provider I am using) and guess what most of us can afford to do is the latter. You can also try other ways like changing the hosts but it won’t work forever and there are always sites out of your reach. Thus a VPN is a more long term investment and more guaranteed way to freedom.
Now I feel like I am Eren from Shingeki no Kyojin who eager to go outside the wall but not to fight the Kyoujin and a VPN is my magic. Yes, an unstable magic. And oops, maybe I should start a Chinese version of the blog.