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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Professionalism is qualitative, not quantitative.

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“Professionalism is qualitative, not quantitative.” / SML.20121209.PHIL

“Professionalism is qualitative, not quantitative.” / SML.20121209.PHIL /

Some people said that they are not a professional because they don't make any money doing what they do. I find this interesting. What does making money have anything to do with being a professional or not?

To me, professionalism is an attitude. It is a measure of how one approaches an activity. It has nothing to do with the amount of money one makes doing it.

I have worked with countless so-called “professionals” in my years of business over the years and I can tell you that there are a lot of people—regardless of competency—who charge their clients exuberant sums of money but who can never deliver what was promised. I have also worked with countless so-called “non-professionals” who do not receive much pay but are top-notch in what they do.

You are a professional if you can deliver a professional product. You are a professional if you maintain a professional attitude while doing it. You are not a professional just because you do it for a living. You are not a professional just because you have a degree in that field. You are most certainly not a professional just because you are able to make lots of money doing it.

Business transactions are monetary exchange agree by two parties. Business dealings, monetary compensation and professionalism often relate. However, relationship is not the same as equality.

#香港 #hongkong #中國 #china #李思明 #seeminglee #思想 #philosophy #opinions #專業 #professionalism #professional #profession #工作 #jobs #商 #business #錢 #money

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Do it

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Do it.
Do it for you.
Do it for your own happiness.
Do it so your life has meaning.
Do it so you can be.

“Do it. Do it for you. Do it for your own happiness. Do it so your life has meaning. Do it so you can be.” / SML Philosophy / SML.20121212.PHIL.Life.Do.It

“Do it. Do it for you. Do it for your own happiness. Do it so your life has meaning. Do it so you can be.” / SML Philosophy / SML.20121212.PHIL.Life.Do.It

Countless humans I have interfaced with in the past have mentioned to me that they want to do something but they don't because they don't know what other people would think about them when they do it.

In his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” author Stephen R. Covey suggests that moving from dependence to independence (i.e. self-mastery) is key to one’s happiness and sanity. In other words, caring about what other people think is a self-destruction act.

The happiness of others is not your concern—especially if you have not yet mastered self-happiness. You are however responsible for your own happiness. Everything that I do, I do it for myself. I don’t do anything because it makes other people happy. I do it because it makes me happy. The same philosophy applies for what I do for work. Work should be 100% fun. Work should be play and play only.

Once you learn to let go and not mind about other people‘s business, you can move on with your life. Opinionated people who “thoughtfully” offer suggestions to others are everywhere. They will continue to “care” about you and proceed to drive you nuts. In these scenarios, I find it best to initiate a dialog with them. Make sure that they understand that what they are suggesting is not helpful. Ask them to stop. Have the ability to “agree to disagree.”

Unfortunately some of these “caring people” will not stop even after prolonged discussions. In my experience, some humans—for reasons which escapes me—simply do not have a logic unit in their CPUs. These types of humans will continue to send negative waves in the form of opinions and comments as “suggestions” about what you do. When these are constantly present and leeching into your sanity, terminate relationships with them right away. If you can't cut them loose then just move as far away as possible.

Remember: be independent. Be yourself. Be happy. Be responsible for you and yourself only.

Disclaimer: Brainhacking results vary. What works for SML might not work for you.

/ SML Philosophy / SML.20121212.PHIL.Life.Do.It / #smlphil #ccby #smluniverse / #生 #life #思想 #philosophy #opinions #mind #brain #做 #do #人 #people #humans #開心 #happiness #hacks #brainhacks #lifehacks #mindhacks

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Control all 3 (connectors + mavens + salesmen). Control the network.

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The Law of the Few.
The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts:
  1. Connectors = SML#Hub = SML#HR
  2. Mavens = SML#Journalism = SML#Media
  3. Salesmen = SML#Marketing = SML#PR
— Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

Control all three. Control the network.
— SML Network Theory

“Control all three. Control the network.” / SML.20121204.PHIL

“Control all three. Control the network.” / SML.20121204.PHIL

People often ask me why I am so active on social networks, what I am trying to do, and what my “end game” is. My objective for SML Universe (org) is to give a voice to people who have no voice because of social bigotry. In order to do what I set out to do in order to effect change, Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point suggests that I need to become all three types of people: connectors, mavens and salesmen. And this is what I try to do.

1. Connectors = SML#Hub = SML#HR

I try to go to different universes to meet random people. People who don't do what I do is interesting to me because I don't know anything about them. I am usually interested in things which I don't know anything about so I ended up meeting lots of people who do not seem to relate. Because of this, I find myself often functioning as an HR for jobs, and I am more than happy to send introductions to people because I believe that when awesome people come together they often create amazing, beautiful, and creative things.

2. Mavens = SML#Journalism = SML#Media

When I see interesting things happening when I explore the random universe, I like to blog about them. I enjoy photography so I tend to record a visual record of what I see. Photojournalism is therapeutic and it gives me opportunities to write, so I do a lot of it. It was said that pictures say a thousand words and I certainly believe so. Often people don't have the time to read my essay length blog posts but most don't mind looking at photos. So that works out nicely. I also started turning my photography into videography interviews. I enjoy every opportunity to create as the act of creation gives me the thrill. It is my happiness life hacks. The bonus is that I get to write music as soundtracks so those are all very fun.

3. Salesmen = SML#Marketing = SML#PR

When I publish content I always simulcast to multiple social media networks. Most people believe that they only need to be on a single network, so in order to to reach the entire critical mass I post the same thing to multiple networks, all with very different audience. This works out nicely. Content where people like on Flickr are often very different than those for Instagram or Foursquare or Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr. Since I can't really tell when and why people will like something, covering the entire UGC content media network is important, and is also what I advise / recommend companies in the business of reaching critical mass do when I do marketing strategy for them.

Work should be play and play alone

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“Work should be play and play alone. Do what you love — that

“Work should be play and play alone. Do what you love — that's the only thing which matters.” / SML.20121203.PHIL

When you do what you love, you will have passion. When you have the passion to do your job, you will be good at it. When you are good at your job, people will love you for it and usually happy to pay lots of money for it.

Don't ever work for money. Money always follow when you do what you love. Money should be the result, not the reason.

Disclaimer: this philosophy works for SML but your results may vary. SML cannot guarantee results for everyone and cannot be held liable for your life nor financial situation.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Delete Perfection + Zero expectations / Happiness Life Hacks


Perfection does not exist. You might as well remove the word from your dictionary right now before it turns you into absolute demise. If perfection existed, I certainly have never seen it, nor have I ever experienced it.

Abstract in C minor / 20090825.10D.51822 / SML

The beauty of imperfection. Abstract in C minor / 20090825.10D.51822 / SML

For a large part of my life, I had been a perfectionist, and I expected perfection from others. Since perfection does not exist, you can imagine how unhappy I used to be. I put in 200% of my effort to the point of exhaustion and all I was left with was depression of failing to reach the impossible goal of being perfect. All I was able to see was flaws in myself, and flaws in others. I got upset when things were not perfect, and it drove me nuts.

I believe that there are certain things in life which you cannot learn no matter how intelligent you are. There are things which you can only learn only when you have lived long enough. Older people have the leg up here. I often tell people that I aspire to attain things which could only be gained through time, and this is one of those things. It took me more than three decades to realize that perfection does not exist. I now embrace imperfection fully. I embrace it through these methods:

  1. Zero expectations. I have found that expecting nothing from others is a good way to maintain happiness. When someone promise me that they would complete a task by a certain date, I expect that they would complete nothing. When they do, I get happy. When I order food from a restaurant, I expect them to never show up. So when they do, I get happy. When I decided to meet someone I found on an online personal, I expect that they will look nothing like what they describe to be. When they in fact are somewhat decent, I am happy. It may sound absolutely crazy to live life this way, but I have found this to be a very good life hack to maintain happiness. In the worst case scenario I will just be indifferent. Indifferent is ok because I will at least not feel upset about it. Feeling upset is hazardous to the soul.
  2. Ensure that people know that I am imperfect. After I was diagnosed with ADHD + Bipolar, I made sure that everyone knows about it. I identify what I am not good at: time management, organization of physical space, “people skills,” etc, and I make sure that when I do anything which require those specific skill sets that I work with someone who can cover those. I will not work on any project which does not have a good project manager. I am thankful that I have worked with many excellent project managers / personal assistants who know how to work with crazy people like me while not trying to micro-manage everything. I report progress through daily and if necessarily through hourly reports because I cannot estimate time it takes to complete anything. Though I've also wised up somewhat—by following the principle of “under promise, over deliver”, when I think that things will take 1 week to do, I tell them that it would take 4 weeks to complete. Usually it works out to be around 3 weeks. Knowing this is helpful. By working in an agile fashion, it is good for me and it is good for others. This is also my preference when working in teams.
  3. Say no to things which are unrealistic. I have a tendency to over-commit. When clients ask me if I can do something within an unrealistically short period of time, I used to agree to them and as a result also drove myself to death—literally. The stress was so high that I had contemplated killing myself. The crazy thing was that since I was a perfectionist then, I decided to postpone suicide because I could not see myself having a tomb with something like “SML, the one who did not finish an XYZ project.” I also considered the possibility that no one would show up to my funeral because I somehow messed up their project. Yes I know that this is all very funny but somehow crazies have their crazy ways to cope with life. These days I just say no. I tell people to go find someone else for things which I think will kill me. Interestingly they usually stay with me because usually when I was given unrealistic requests like that it was because they could not find any humans to do it and I am usually their last hope. Wishful thinking is a common attribute among humans. Humans are just weird.
  4. Be thankful. A lot of people that I have met feel “entitled” to things because they have done something else. I promote the idea of “zero expectations” and so I am thankful to those who have done anything—no matter how small—for me. A lot of people have the philosophy that just because someone work at their company, they can slave-drive their employees as bots. Don't do that. Humans are not capable of sustaining high levels of pressure. Since I maintain zero-expectations from others, I am thankful when people have completed the tasks as requested and as promised. It works out ok.
  5. Be independent. Zero expectations require that I be independent, so I utilize every opportunity to learn new things and skills. I also spend much time researching productivity tools which would help me cope with my deficiencies better. I utilize hashtags e.g. #sml2do for things I need to do. Using unique but consistent hashtags allow me to then use Google to then track things which are not yet completed. I make sure that there are always multiple point of entries of the same todo lists.
  6. Be forgiving. Mastership of zero expectations remove the need to forgive because I will never be upset. But although I don't seem human to most, I am in fact human. Attaining zero expectations has been a difficult journey, and I suspect that it will be a life long journey. So until I am able to reach my goal (which is probably never because perfection does not exist), I remind myself to be forgiving. If I wish that others be more understanding to my own imperfection then I need to be forgiving.

I am writing these thoughts down because Mr James Reeves suggested to me that I should write more. SML Thank You for the suggestion. It does seem that writing it out eases the pain somewhat.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Where to stay in Hong Kong

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A lot of my friends from New York are traveling to Hong Kong and they often asked me where they should stay at. Instead of typing essay-length emails every time, I thought that I will create a blog post of my original email so I can just reference this in the future.

Depending on your price range. Centrally located + good + inexpensive options are:

  • YMCA Salisbury at Tsim Sha Tsui (next to Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong Art Museum, Peninsula Hong Kong) – Kowloon
  • YMCA Wan Chai (next to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong Art Center, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts) – Hong Kong Island

Moderately priced:

  • Sheraton Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Shui (TST) – Kowloon
  • Renaissance Wan Chai – Hong Kong Island

If cost is not a criteria for consideration or your client is paying for your stay, then consider these options:

  • Intercontinental Kowloon in Tsim Sha Shui (TST) — the original Regent Hong Kong, sold to Intercontinental. Amazing sea views. I used to go to the coffee shop in the lobby for fantastic homemade ice cream in the weekends when I was little.
  • Four Seasons Hong Kong in Central (Hong Kong Island) — with Hong Kong's only Michelin 3-Star restaurant Lung King Heen (Foursquare, where SML is currently the mayor), Four Seasons Hong Kong is the place to stay at in if you are a foodie. Four Seasons also has a very responsive Twitter presence and they have been very helpful to many of my queries. Highly recommended.

In general you would want to find hotels around TST / Wan Chai. The urban planning of Hong Kong is buzzing in downtown – and to access all 11 types of transportation, the hub is also there. You can check-in to airport downtown also so this is your best option. I don't know where your conference is, but most likely it would be on Hong Kong Island, so Wan Chai might be more convenience / next door.

There might be even more inexpensive options but I don't really know about them so I can't really recommend any. You can send me listings that you saw on hotel booking site and I can let you know what I know about them. The really cheap lodging options in Hong Kong can potentially be dangerous.

If you don't mind traveling for long distance (subway 30mins to downtown, for example), however, there are cheaper options – for example there is a hotel right next to where I live: Hyatt Regency Shatin (25 mins to TST, 30 mins to Central, approx $1,200 HKD ~ $130 USD) which is in fact the hotel facilities of the teaching hotel for School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Chinese University of Hong Kong – think Cornell's Hotel / Hospitality. Food is super yummy there.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Journalism Ethics: Thoughts on Forbes' report about Sandy by Mark H. Bergen

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A few days ago I saw a tweet posted by Forbes (@forbes / SML Wiki) written by Mark H. Bergen (@mhbergen / SML Wiki) in which it was summarized as “Asian megacities are awaiting superstorm fates much worse than Sandy”

Media reports like these infuriates me, because instead of spending valuable resources in solving the crisis, Forbes has chosen to use this as opportunity to trivialize technologies in Asia.

I consider this form of journalism to be propaganda—a report disguised as “analysis” to further hate and dis-education about the reality of technology in Asia and to further the fanatic “patriotism” for Americans into believing that they are truly far superior in everything that they do.

What is far more alarming then is that the title tag of declares themselves as “Information for the World's Business Leaders“. If articles like this is considered valuable information for “World's Business Leaders” then I would like to know how Forbes define the word “business leaders”.

But this gets worse. I got a reply from Mark Bergen on Twitter suggesting that I am questioning his journalism integrity in reference to World Bank / ADB / UN data.

Say what? How does a journalist, a self declared “business reporter… [who blogs] on urban economics for Forbes and report on politics and policies for The Atlantic Cities, GOOD, and Next American City, among others… worked as an investigative reporter and policy researcher“ ( with a “BA in sociology from the College of Wooster” and a ”Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago” came to interpret my criticism as something as moronic as that?

Mark Bergen thought that I was misquoting him because he did not write that. Ok so perhaps I should not put quotes on things which people did not write, but the implications are the same. If he did not write the words “poorer civil engineering” then he most definitely wrote this bit right from the beginning of the article:

the morbidly obvious: emerging market cities are deeply vulnerable to climate change disasters like Sandy. Even if future storms are lesser, their impact on coastal Asian cities would be greater. The combination of booming populations and inadequate infrastructure means sea-level rise alone could paralyze Shanghai, bankrupt Kolkata and make Mumbai virtually unlivable.

If this was not @mhbergen's thesis, then I think that he ought clarify with Forbes as evidently Mark seems to think that I have mistaken his viewpoint.

I am still waiting for responses from Mark Bergen and Forbes for their clarification of intention in publishing this article.

Nothing wrong with criticisms, but clear slandering like this is simply unethical. If this had appeared on a personal blog I would dismiss it as narrow-minded-ness. But this article was not published on a personal blog. It was published on a “mainstream” media site. I tend to consider that anything that's considered “mainstream” to have at least a little bit of moral conscience in deciding what to publish but clearly this is not the case.

Is this why this media publishing conglomerate is privately held (Google Finance)? Being privately held does not grant a publication intended for public consumption — especialy one with a large circulation — to publish anything one wishes. The Economist (Google Finance) is also privately held yet their articles appear to be relatively objective — at least they are ethical. It's hard to maintain an unbiased viewpoint because our experience are formed by what we experienced in our past, but having the foresight to recognize that people are simply different — in other words that life is diverse — allows us to then gain insight to see how we can learn from each other. Failing to see one's weakness and yet blatantly laugh at others is unacceptable.

In Chinese, we have a saying: “五十步笑百步” (Wikipedia: ZH-HK), and it appears that there is a similar saying in English: “The pot calling the kettle black” (Wikipedia: EN). In essence, when you failed to observe that that you are no better if not worse at something, you are frankly in no position to criticize others — let alone without any ability to offer suggestions on how you think something could be improved on.

Yesterday I came across an interesting documentary from North Korea called “Propaganda” which criticizes the US Media's ethics for massive brainwashing people the culture of consumerism:

Someone on YouTube commented which seems fitting though nevertheless interesting:

Propaganda vs propaganda, at least it balances the american media, and is still less crazy than Fox News...

If you have the time, I recommend that you check it out. Interestingly, YouTube marks the video as “17+ materials”. There is nothing pornographic about it – but it would appear to me that even YouTube feels that media consumption without a critical eye is poison to the soul.

Don't place too much emphasis on whether it's US media or that it was produced in North Korea. The focus here is not really about US vs Asia vs World, it is on the effect of media and how it can shape the way we think if we do not always keep an open mind on everything that we read / see regardless of source.

My key take away? Do not blindly trust any single source for information. Read everything. Be diverse. Maintain a personal viewpoint. Be critical. Be curious. Or as Steve Jobs once quoted the back cover of The Whole World Catalog during a Stanford commencement speech: Stay Foolish, Stay Hungry.

Update: 2012-11-05

I have finally received a respond from Mark H. Bergen (@mhbergen) after I posted this blog post.

I don't know why people constantly reference data source as validation. Data source says nothing. Data source is just that: data. Analytics is processed data. Opinions is human thoughts derived through analytics processed from data. Input / Output. The two things do not equate.

But the even more wtf comment would follow next:

Why is Mark asking me about “orientalism”? Did I say that anywhere in my post? Very strange.

In fact, this recurring pattern of MHB's failure to interpret my English makes me think that maybe I am a very poor writer. Either that or he is a very poor English interpreter. A friend upon reading this blog post and checking out SML Wiki: Mark H. Bergen commented that he was shocked by the fact that MHB holds a Masters in Public Policy from The University of Chicago (Twitter). “How is it possible that someone from UChicago to have such poor analytical skills,” he remarked. I have no idea.

Extra: Screenshot of my conversation with Forbes and Mark Bergen on Twitter

Twitter: Forbes @forbes: Asian megacities are awaiing superstorm fates worse than Sandy, writes @mhbergen. / 2012-11-01 / SML Screenshots

Twitter: Forbes @forbes: Asian megacities are awaiing superstorm fates worse than Sandy, writes @mhbergen. / 2012-11-01 / SML Screenshots

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Photography requires no expensive cameras


All too often, when I tell people that I do photography, the first thing they ask is which camera I use – as if it is the most important aspect of photography. I don't understand why that is. Surely the first thing you ask a writer is not which word processor they use to write with; and that the first thing you ask a carpenter is not which brand of hammers / screwdrivers they use – so why should it be any different for photography?

Yes, professional photographers do own expensive cameras. But that is out of necessity – that is, they are not using more expensive cameras because they are professional, it's because in order to get the shot that they want, they need the relevant tool to do it. I am not a full-time professional photographer, but I actively use four different cameras for different purposes. Using better cameras usually give me a leg up when I process the images because lesser camera simply don't have the right specs to do what I want them to, and I end up spending more time inside Photoshop to tweak to perfection.

To illustrate the point that you don't need expensive equipments to take good photographs, I have a collection on Flickr where things are grouped by the tools that I use. I do this mainly because I want to tally up what tools I use for each image. Using Flickr's API it is easy for me then do some data analysis on my own photographs.

Canon EOS 100

Yale University Old Campus / 1996 / SML

Yale University Old Campus / 1996 / SML

The Canon EOS 100 was my first camera. My dad bought me this in 1995 when I left Hong Kong for Yale. It is a film camera. I learned the art and science of photography by working as the photo editor for The Yale Herald, a newspaper published weekly with feature articles. I had to work in the darkroom every week for my assignments. Although I never took a photography class at Yale, I honestly believe that working in the darkroom constantly every week for four years provided the foundation of my photography. It is also through printing my own prints that I am able to translate techniques learned – e.g. working with filters, dodging + burning, pushing + pulling – that allow me to work more efficiently inside Photoshop these days.

I still have this camera. It is my only film camera so I don't want to throw it out even though I don't use it very often these days. I still intend to maybe take some slides with it but never really had the chance. There is something very special about taking photographs with film. With 36 shots max per roll, I tend to spend more time when I compose my shots. The same can be said for my HDR photography and similarly for long-exposure shots. If I know that I will likely need to be holding that position for a long time, and any mis shots would mean spending more time being stuck at the location, I tend to take extra amount of care when I compose. It's interesting to me how my setup and tools change the way I photograph.

Sony Mavica FD7

Numbers in a City: New Haven / 1997 / SML

Numbers in a City: New Haven / 1997 / SML

Sony Mavica FD7 was my first digital camera. I bought it in 1997 after I've made some money in the summer after my sophomore year. It's hard to imagine now how much money I paid for this camera. At a resolution of 640x480, it stores images onto 3.5" floppy disk and I paid $999 USD to buy it. I don't own it anymore because one of my ex kind of stole it from me and refused to give it back when I broke up with him as part of his “revenge”. Ugh.

Canon G2

Manhattan Bridge / 20030706.G2 / SML

Manhattan Bridge / 20030706.G2 / SML

I bought the Canon G2 in 2001 after working in New York for a while. Before the G2 I actually bought a Sony CyberShot DSC-F55 but the performance is so bad that I decided to get back onto the Canon camp. And the G2 does not disappoint.

Pigeon Attack / 20040623.G2.02032 / SML

Pigeon Attack / 20040623.G2.02032 / SML

I eventually decided to buy a DSLR mainly because when I started to do more long exposure shots, the G2 becomes a bit too noisy for my taste.

Canon EOS 10D

Manhattan Bridge HDR (B+W) / 2005-2006 / SML

Manhattan Bridge HDR (B+W) / 2005-2006 / SML

I can't tell you how much I love my 10D. I bought it in 2005 second-hand from a friend who is a professional photographer. He bought a new 20D and no longer had use for the 10D. In fact it was he who recommended that I get the 10D either new or from him after commenting that there are potentials in my G2 photographs. At the time I really thought that he was just trying to sell his junk to me – but frankly I am really thankful that he was such a used equipment pusher then! :)

Brooklyn Bridge HDR (40087-40092) for gewandhaus / 2006-2008 / SML

Brooklyn Bridge HDR (40087-40092) for gewandhaus / 2006-2008 / SML

I don't really use this camera anymore really but I do keep it around as spare in case my 7D die. But I really owe much to this camera. Most of the most amazing photographs on my Flickr stream were taken with the 10D. By publishing my photos via Creative Commons, it gained a lot of exposure and subsequently they brought me lots of fame which was completely unexpected, such as being used in Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra's season catalog.

Bird Houses / 20071230.10D.46705 / SML

Bird Houses / 20071230.10D.46705 / SML

A completely unexpected side-effect from using an old camera while everybody upgraded is that if people are looking for photographs taken with that particular camera, there aren't that many on Flickr. So now if you go on Flickr searching for photographs with ”canon10d” as tag and then sort by interestingness, the photo above comes up as result #1. And if you look further, spot #1, #3, #4, #5, #6, #9 were also taken by me:

Flickr Explore: Tags: Canon 10D: Sort by Interestingness / Screen Shot 2012-09-30 at 5.32.04 PM / SML Screenshots

Flickr Explore: Tags: Canon 10D: Sort by Interestingness / Screen Shot 2012-09-30 at 5.32.04 PM / SML Screenshots

Nobody really bothered with the 10D anymore after 20D came out because a lot of the metering on the Canon TTL tech does not work with the 10D. It also ‘sounds’ like it doesn't have enough spec because it's a 3M pixel camera. Don't let the specs scare you. In my experience, the number of pixels rarely matter. What matter is the quality of the pixels. I have made A2 prints with photographs taken with the 10D with no issue at all.

Carmen Miranda, Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2008 / 20080621.10D.49128 / SML

Carmen Miranda, Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2008 / 20080621.10D.49128 / SML

One advantage of having an SLR is that because of its shear size, it gets you front and center wear the action is. No more being stuck behind crowds. The SLR with your myriads of lenses get you in front of any crowd – right next to the pros. Don't believe me? Try it yourself at any public event. Remember to bring along your heavy L glass – the bigger the better – add another spare with another huge lens and see if anyone check for your press pass.


Ship's Figure Head / Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2007 / SML

With an SLR, people also volunteer to pose for you. I don't think that people would ask me to take photos of them if I was with my P+S.

Canon SD850IS

Untitled Forms / 20090924.SD850IS.3202.P1.SQ / SML

Untitled Forms / 20090924.SD850IS.3202.P1.SQ / SML

Point and shoot does have its place though. How often do you want to carry all those tech with you all the time? And that is exactly why I bought the SD850 at the first place. It has just enough controls but is small enough for me to carry it around all the time. I took the photo above when I was walking my dog one night. My P+S is always with me everywhere that I go. Yes the pixel quality is not as good as the SLR – but I would rather take the shot then not having anything at all.

Kiss / 20091129.SD850IS.03533.P1.L1.SQ.BW / SML

Kiss / 20091129.SD850IS.03533.P1.L1.SQ.BW / SML

A side effect of carrying a P+S is that people are more willing to let you photograph them if you look like a tourist who just want to take some photos. I don't think that I would be able to get many of the photos in my kiss series if I did not have my P+S with me. Sadly I don't have this camera with me anymore. I lent it to a friend in New York and I never arranged a time to meet her up before I left New York. Oh well, hopefully she would have some use for it!

Canon EOS 7D

New York Life (aka Union Square bokeh) / 2009-11-24 / SML

As I started to work on more videos, I find myself needing a camera that is capable to producing videos. This is why I bought the Canon EOS 7D. I had wanted to get the full frame 5D then but I can't really afford it. The 7D is somewhat noisy but for its price I think that it was a good decision. Plus at the time the 5D Mk II's focusing tech is not as good so I decided on the 7D instead. Still not a full frame – but if I want to photograph full frame I actually can just use my Canon EOS 100. :)

Putrajaya Landscape / SML.20110203.7D.07266.TM01.BW

Putrajaya Landscape / SML.20110203.7D.07266.TM01.BW

This is my default camera body now. With all the accessories that I have it's somewhat heavy but it is what I use when I travel. My main reason for traveling is to photograph different places and culture. So it has lots of use. The CMOS sensor is very good quality. It is a big improvement from the 10D.

EL Wire Dress, Diana Eng

EL Wire Dress, Diana Eng's Fairytale Fashion Show at Eyebeam NYC / 20100224.7D.03492.P1.L1.C23 / SML

7D's rapid firing action also makes it perfect for photojournalism. Often for live action events there is no time for you to even decide on how to frame because the moment it gone if you don't release the shutter soon enough.

Kiss: Ryan Gilbert + Michael Correntte / 20100117.7D.02110.P1.L1.C23.BW / SML

Kiss: Ryan Gilbert + Michael Correntte / 20100117.7D.02110.P1.L1.C23.BW / SML

Earlier I mentioned that my Kiss series owe much to having a P+S – but sometimes having SLR also fetched you the opportunity. Because I look series, these couples let me photograph them while I was covering another event at the bar and the photos were subsequently published in a a French gay lifestyle magazine – which is so awesome!

Epson 4810 Scanography

See-ming Lee / 20090902.4810.SQ.BW / SML

See-ming Lee / 20090902.4810.SQ.BW / SML

You don't even need a camera to do photography. I experimented a little bit with scanography – the art of photographing using a scanner. Since scanners do not ‘photograph’ the whole photograph at the same time. You ended with these rather interesting composition which can almost be said to be of cubist tradition:

See-ming Lee / 20090902.4810 / SML

See-ming Lee / 20090902.4810 / SML

If you want to use your scanner as a camera though, make sure that you wipe the glass clean – as you see above dust spots are everywhere. You can tweak them in photoshop but wow painful – so as with all photography setup: do it right the first time and you don't need to tweak things to death later on.

Canon G12

Division / SML.20120831.G12.00112

Division / SML.20120831.G12.00112

Since as I mentioned earlier on, I don't have a P+S anymore, so I bought the Canon G12. The video function is fairly good so I am also using it to work on some video

人流 Human Logistics: 香港地鐵藍田站 Hong Kong MTR Lam Tin Station / SML.20120905.G12.00184

人流 Human Logistics: 香港地鐵藍田站 Hong Kong MTR Lam Tin Station / SML.20120905.G12.00184

Acting as a tourist again: no one bother me when I photograph inside subway stations in Hong Kong

iPad 3

Motherboards Diversity / SML.20120917.164110.IP3

Motherboards Diversity / SML.20120917.164110.IP3

Shopkeepers in Hong Kong really dislike people taking photographs of their store. I guess probably because a lot of times local photojournalists take photographs to report bad behavior at the store. For these instances, the iPad came to rescue. The quality of the pixel suffers somewhat here but again I'd rather have the shot then have nothing at all.

LG e400

Waking up: A photographer ought to be able to create good images even with the shittiest camera. I can

Waking up: A photographer ought to be able to create good images even with the shittiest camera. I can't yet, so I will try.

I am waiting for iPhone 5 to be in hand, so when I moved to Hong Kong two months ago, I went out and bought the cheapest Android phone so I can at least use Google Maps without popping up a giant iPad on the crowdy street in Hong Kong. That's why I own the LG e400 now. As the most inexpensive phone on the market, to say that its sensor is sh!tty would be an understatement.



It is however precisely how bad the camera is that I had the realization that if I am to become a good photographer, I really ought to be able to take photographs regardless of the equipment I use. In other words, by making myself to create good images out of the worst available tool, I am in fact pushing myself to become a better photographer. I am no where near that point yet, but I hope that one day I will be able to.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Diversity – or why I moved from New York to Hong Kong to create SML Universe


There is a saying that ”every 7 years is a cycle”. I am not religious – but I did spend time studying philosophies from different religions and schools of thoughts – and interestingly the number 7 as an indicator for cycles kept coming up. This is interesting to me. Whether you believe in such numerology or not, I recognize that today, on my 36th birthday, was a moment of rebirth within my fifth cycle, for a decision which took me a year to finalize: my move from New York to Hong Kong after working and living for all of my adult life in America.

Those who know me for long know that I have traditionally been very active in social media – be it on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud, Tumblr, FriendFeed, YouTube, Vimeo – basically as someone I met on these social network said, I am everywhere. But if you look at the year before July 2012, I could not be found on the internet. I tweeted a couple of times mostly as an ambient device to let people (mostly my family) know that I was not dead, but that's about it. I did this because I wanted to not have any outside influence on my decision. I wanted to make sure that it makes the most sense to me. But to tell you why I made such a drastic decision, I have to tell you a little bit of myself.

As a gay man growing up in Hong Kong, I remember crying every single day after school in private – there was not a single day that I was not bullied. When I was accepted to Yale, I got excited because I thought that if Yale truly lived up to the popular claim of “one in four and maybe more” then I should be ok. It turns out that although Gayalies was a nice support group, my being Chinese was not that awesome within the predominantly WASP presence. I was invited to some Asian American functions but because I was gay, I did not feel welcome either. As an art major with close to none art background, I was not much of an item. Being a programmer almost automatically labeled me as a non-artist. When I took an interaction design class at the MFA program, I focus on making the programs work and not how pretty they are – it was completely dissed. I also recalled telling my graphic design professors that I had a great time the summer after my sophomore year (1997) working at and they just gave me a disapproving look and questioned why I would want to do web design which was (and probably still is) ‘99% garbage’ anyway. Even after I started working for an interactive agency, since I prefer PC (at the time) over Mac (seriously OS9 is crap, sorry), I don't really fit in. The IT department thought of me as a trouble maker and annoyed their software licensing process. And if you think that coming out to your parents is difficult (I did that when I was 14), try coming out as a PC user at an AIGA event. I also had a lot of trouble explaining what is that I do – I use programming as part of my prototyping process to design interaction – which I felt and do still feel is the only way you can design interaction – to experience what you design as you refine over time. Storyboards just don't cut it. People like to place me as either category, but I am neither and I am both. It was very frustrating. I am thankful that over time I have met some people who became mentors to me because they understand me, but they are also far and few between. As a minority in a minority in a minority, I have never felt my voice heard. I struggled my entire life but I also accepted that reality that I would simply be a loner. I am ok with that.

Fast forward to the summer of 2007, I was invited to cover the gay pride parade for a company. Since I was already there, I also took the opportunity to photograph everyone else in the event. It was a very emotional experience for me. Before then I had long disregarded the gay pride as a complete marketing machine. But after that day, I truly understood why so many gay men and women choose to march down sixth avenue every year – the joy of being accepted. On that sunny afternoon, the streets were packed. It was a city-wide party. People all over the tri-state area came to New York. They were cheering in ecstacy. Yes I know they were probably cheering for the hot guys and gals wearing close to nothing :) but it doesn't much matter. For the first time, I feel accepted. If you had not been accepted for who you are all your life, you would understand how it felt. I have never experienced that until then.

When I got home that night, I wrote a manifesto about life:

Life (Manifesto) / 2007.07.07-2012.09.25 / SML

Later, I created a Flickr group called Life Celebrates Diversity (Twitter) so people who do not feel heard can have a voice. As I started doing more photojournalism and started blogging about art, I suddenly recognized that there are a lot of artists around who do not have much media exposure because they are simply don't have the know-how to gain the social media klout. I have long been interested in network theories, and I enjoy using social networks and for a large degree Google as a testbed for network theory experiments, so I created SML Fine Art (Twitter), a Flickr group with the mission to preserve the diversity of art – be them small, medium or large.

All of my Flickr groups have a common objective and guiding principal: it sets no limits – no one is there to ‘curate’ the content. Life doesn't pose a limit on us, so who am I to set a limit on others? Subsequently I have created many others: SML Graphic Design (Twitter), SML Viz (Twitter), etc – all areas where I am interested in. I created them so it accepts everyone. It was also a really great way for me to notice works of interest and subsequently gave me the opportunity to meet them in person.

Since I belong to a ton of visual social networks anyway, I am more than happy to post things of interest to FFFFound, which get tweeted, and auto-post to Tumblr and basically let things sip inside the social net – a process which a friend called the ‘incestuous reality of any social network’. My hope is that through these networks the work which I believe to be important would at least gain a little bit of much deserved voice. This is what my passion lies: to do what I can to give a voice to the little guys – those whose voice were not heard mostly out of bigotry. I never had a voice when I was younger, and I wish for others that they could have the opportunity to be accepted.

I wanted to do this full time for a long time, but I could not while I was in New York. As an ’alien’ in America, I was bound by US law to work full time at a company. As such I joined a couple of startups whose philosophies appear to be in line with mine. Unfortunately, as investments come in and when revenue matters, so did their business plan. They were wonderful folks, but I cannot really work full time at a job which pays me no salary and are not inline with my philosophy. I am grateful and thankful for the experience – I have learned a lot, but I thought that it was time that I moved on and do my own thing. Having my own company allows me to do that. It doesn't really pay much right now. Starting from scratch is difficult. But you cannot measure value with a dollar sign. I have done a lot of freelance in the past in New York for lots of money but it never buys me happiness. I now only work on things which I believe to be meaningful regardless of pay. I am thankful for the support of my family to allow me the luxury to realize my dream. Conventional wisdom suggests that doing everything for free generates nothing in return, but my experience tells me that it is far from the truth. There are many things which could not be bought and those are most valuable. Even if we must focus on money, my experience with licensing everything for on my Flickr stream for free via Creative Commons suggests otherwise. It is a bit hard to believe but I actually made money from my CC content because people who had the budget for photography for their projects ended up giving me credits and send me cheques for photo placement. It's crazy. Those who couldn't afford to pay will never be able to pay anyway so what does it matter?

In any case, I still do some freelance projects on the side if it's meaningful to me. Money is not a measure of value for me. I prefer bartering – which before the concept of money was invented was how people do business anyway. I also hope to spend half of my time in the next 10 years documenting the change of China through photography as showing Chinese culture in a positive light is important to me. I may not agree with everything that the Chinese government is doing, but as a Chinese, I am proud of my culture. Which is exactly why I don't have an English name. You need not agree with the politics, but the people, the culture and the arts are really spectacular. I also hope to meet the local artists in my journey, as I have seen some really interesting things happening in contemporary art in China.

So there you have it. I am in Hong Kong now because after connecting all the dots of what I did in my life, I think that I have found out what I love to do and I want to do exactly that – which interestingly was the same conclusion that Steve Jobs came to while he was still alive.

Update: 2012-10-15

If you wish to learn more about how Creative Commons indirectly helped me gain influence on the social web, check out this article recently written about me where a photograph which almost got deleted from my camera ended up being the most popular photo on my Flickr stream and in turn became synonymous with Twitter when it comes to journalism.

Storyful tips and tools: How Creative Commons helps creators and journalists

Monday, September 24, 2012

One typography book to rule them all

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
–J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954, chapter 2
Robert Bringhurst: The Elements of Typographic Style / SML.20120919.1211092.IP3

The only book you need for typography.

Recently I moved from New York to Hong Kong after spending more than a decade working in Gotham City. During this process, I had to ‘minify‘ a one-bedroom apartment filled with wall-to-wall books to a personal set goal of ten. It turned out to be a very challenging process – and it took me a long time to get it done. Ultimately I had everything down to 30 boxes – which was much higher than my goal, but still an extreme reduction no less.

If you are a book nerd like me, you would understand my dilemma of throwing books away. Yes I know – I haven’t touched most of them in years, and they were pretty much collecting dust — but they are also treasures to me. I remember when and why I bought each of my books, and I recall the lessons I learned from reading it. I had donated them all to charity so that they won’t go to waste, but saying goodbye was difficult.

The process did result in something positive in the end: helping me identify the gems of each genre – in other words – the one book to rule them all!

As a designer, I own a lot of design books. And since design books are visual and are not really about just the words, Kindle + electronic books simply don't do their justice – maybe in the future that will change – for now you simply can't get the same experience from their electronic equivalent, and it is for this reason that most of them don't get issued in electronic format.

So if you ask a designer to get rid of his books, it's a heartbreaking task. In the end, I kept only one book on typography: The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. On Amazon, I recommend seven books on typography. But if there is only one book which you want, this would be the one.

Ironically this was also the only book on the reading list for my graphic design education at Yale – I suppose that's what a good education buys you: the wisdom + access to the gems in each category, saving you the time to read all of the books only to come to the same conclusion?

Here are the rest of the books on typography which I recommend, if you are interested:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Photoshop tutorials for medical researchers: simple color conversion

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I often get emails from my sister (who is a medical researcher) asking me how to do some very simple image processing tasks. I usually just do it for her but when she recently sent a file to me I thought that maybe it would be easier to just teach her how to do it so she can do it herself.

The task was really simple: convert a color graph against black background to a black graph against the white background. I did this in Cantonese with a mix of English because this is how we speak to each other – this video is really meant for her. But maybe when I have time I will go and add some closed-captioning.

Lessons learned from making this video:

  • As someone who has been using Photoshop since 1995, all the keyboard shortcuts are really second-nature, but for a complete n00b the learning curve is fairly steep.
  • I am on a Mac right now but my sister is on a PC. It is quite a mouthful to explain both.
  • I think conceptually and visually so I often have trouble spelling out what the functions are.
  • Found a nice Mac app for displaying keyboard / mouse press interaction: Mousexposé. Useful for both Skype screen share as well as video capture.
  • I used Screenflow 3 to capture the video but the audio track is in fact recorded separately. Process: audio was captured with the internal microphone. I clapped at the beginning to make a visual wave mark, and then I used my Sony PCM-M10 to record at the same time. I am doing it this way because I don't currently have a mini cable to connect the field recorder to the computer. Otherwise I probably would just connect the line-out directly to computer.
  • The audio file from the PCM-M10 is then placed into Ableton Live and cleaned up with some EQ / mastering tweaks using iZotope Ozone. The finished 24-bit 96kHz aiff is then exported and placed into Premiere where I visually matched the ‘clap’ mark and then I discard the bad audio from the video.

I know, it's a lot of steps – but if you don‘t want to deal with having to drive yourself mad to clean up audio from bad microphones with huge noise floors, this is the way to do it!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Good designs make you happy

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Cubitec Shelving Units x3 / SML.20120916.IP3 Three sets of Cubitec units unpacked and shipped from New York in 2012

At first it might seem a lot to splurge $245 USD x3 on these puppies, but once you realized how durable and configurable they are, you will fall in love with them.

I bought 3 sets of Cubitec shelving units (designed by Tel Aviv designer Doron Lachisch b.1948) from Design Within Reach back in 2009 when I was still in New York. Now that I am in Hong Kong and the space is smaller, I am reconfiguring then into something else.

Well designed products appear simple at first and they make you ponder over the price-value ratio. But like a fine wine, good designs demonstrate through their beauty of functionality that they simply get better and better every year.

SML Books / 20090903.10D.52429 / SML Cubitec shelves as configured in New York apartment. Pardon that mess!

The shelves are constructed with highly durable plastic. And as you can see, all three units fits perfectly inside my MeBox (another fine design example) – which is unfortunately no longer available for sale. Sure you can go to Ikea for some knock-offs, but what did those shelves you bought form 5 years ago look like now? My Cubitec looks brand new like the first day I bought it, and it continues to bring me joy everyday.

Highly recommended.

The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir, a book by James A. Reeves

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This is a story about being a man in America. – James A. Reeves

The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir, a book by James A. Reeves / SML.20120916.IP3.000808

As I stand behind the philosophy of diversity, often I forgot that it is just as important to reflecting on who I am as the assumed dominant voice of the world – to be a man. In his book titled The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir by writer / photographer / designer extraordinaire James A. Reeves (Twitter / Flickr) gave a frank and honest account of the things he saw and experienced during his journey as he drove cross-country across America. Through witty commentary and often funny + ironic photographs observed through the author's lens, the book is a joy to read and provides great insight about men as well as cultures + customs in America.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Michelin-Star Fast Food Review: Tim Ho Wan 添好運點心專門店 / Hong Kong Awesomeness

Update 2012-09-03. After reading my rave reviews about Tim Ho Wan in Sham Shui Po, my mom (who had been to Tim Ho Wan at the Hong Kong station) decided to visit the restaurant to see if it was really that good. We arrived together and we ordered the same dishes which I placed in my recommended list. We were both very disappointed. Dishes we ordered were: Char siu baau (Baked barbeque pork bun) 雪山叉燒包, Lotus root pie 蓮藕餅, Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕, Rice noodle roll with pig intestine 腸粉 and Osmanthus Jelly 桂花糕. The only saving grace was that the pig intestine was delicious. But every single dish was so-so. For example, the Osmanthus Jelly 桂花糕 I had was so light that it falls apart upon touching with chopsticks on my first visit - but this time it was exactly the same as everyone else's. Conclusion? I suspect that it was unusually good the first time (when this blog post was initially published) because the television crew was there and so the head chef must also be there. This time it was just another day at the restaurant - even the staff was not as polite and professional as the ones before. Given this experience, I can no longer recommend this place. My recommendation to the owner Ah Gor: unless you can make sure that the quality level is consistent and can live up to your standards, do not open up another location. If the brand experience cannot be maintained, it marks the beginning of your end.

Original review based on food on 2012-08-20

Usually where Michelin-Star restaurants are concerned, you need to be prepared for a dent in your wallet if you wish to satisfy your tummy. Well, apparently not so in Hong Kong.

Recently, I got asked by a friend (Jonas) about places to go for great food in Hong Kong. His best friend (Tobias) was visiting for a week. As a food connoisseur, Tobias prefers to dine at restaurants with Michelin stars only. I quickly pulled out the 2012 starred restaurants list which was helpfully provided by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. As a foodie, I have dined at many of the restaurants on the list, but the idea of splurging daily over a week-long period sounded like a piggie-bank suicide.

Stumbled, I turned to my parents, who are food lovers themselves. I was then made aware of the concept of fast food dim sum Michelin-star restaurants - something I dare say has got to be Hong Kong specialty - because I was surprised to discover that there is not one but multiple fast food starred restaurants here in Hong Kong.

Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists 添好運點心專門店

Tobias arrived in Hong Kong early on a Monday morning. I joined him and Jonas and tried out Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists 添好運點心專門店 in Sham Shui Po 深水埗.

During our lunch, a television crew happened to be shooting a tv program on location. Because of Tobias’ amazing good looks and his naturally poised demeanor, he was asked to appear on the show, which is scheduled to air locally some time in the next year. This was what happened that day:

SML Simulcast: YouTube / Vimeo / Facebook

The dish Tobias tried out was Chicken sticky rice / Lotus leaf rice 糯米雞 lo6 mai5 gai1 (Wikipedia). Glutinous rice is wrapped in a lotus leaf into a triangular or rectangular shape. It contains egg yolk, dried scallop, mushroom, water chestnut and meat (usually pork and chicken). These ingredients are steamed with the rice and although the leaf is not eaten, its flavour is infused during the steaming. Lo mai gai is a kind of rice dumpling. A similar but lighter variant is known as "Pearl Chicken" (珍珠雞 jan jyu gai).

It was pretty spectacular. Quite possibly the best Chicken sticky rice 糯米雞 I have had in my entire life. HIGHLY recommended.

Other dishes

The video interview was a fun detour and it was awesome to see the pros in action, but let’s talk about the food.

Overall, I am very impressed. The food is on par with some of the finest dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong. It is easy to conclude from this trip and the other Michelin-
star fast food joints that I visited eventually that in Hong Kong, the price is rarely an indicator of how good the food is. In Hong Kong, restaurants cost more mostly because of its souped-up decor, the spectacular views, the spaciousness (and thus noise level), the convenience of being able to reserve a table (thus not having to wait in a long line). The quality of the food does not appear to factor into the price.

We tried 10 dishes that day, and the Lo Mai Gai which Tobias got from his television interview. The bill was $179 HKD ($23 USD) for three - a bargain!

Steamed meatball 牛肉球 (Wikipedia). Finely ground beef is shaped into balls and then steamed with preserved orange peel and served on top of a thin bean-curd skin.

These are juicy and succulent, and is Tobias’ favorite for the entire meal. Recommended.

Steamed meatball 牛肉球 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00095

"Snow Mountain" Char siu baau (Baked barbeque pork bun) 雪山叉燒包 (Wikipedia). The most popular bun with a Cantonese barbecued pork filling. It can be either steamed to be fluffy and white or baked with a light sugar glaze to produce a smooth golden-brown crust.

My favorite. We subsequently ordered another round. It was heaven on earth. HIGHLY recommended.

Char siu baau (Barbeque pork bun) 叉燒包 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00088

Shrimp dumplings 蝦餃 (Wikipedia). (蝦餃 ha1 gaau2): A delicate steamed dumpling with whole or chopped-up shrimp filling and thin wheat starch skin.

Well done, on par with places that serve the same dish for $60 HKD ($7.50 USD). Though here at Tim Ho Wan, you pay one third of what you normally pay for the same quality.

Shrimp dumplings 蝦餃 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00091

Salty Pastry 鹹水角 (Wikipedia). Made with flour and seasoned pork.

This was good, though not as good as One Dim Sum 一點心 ’s (another Michelin-star dim sum fast food joint in Hong Kong).

Salty Pastry 鹹水角 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00097

Vegetable Dumplings 菜餃 (Wikipedia). Gao, or Dumpling (Chinese: 餃; 餃子; Cantonese Yale: gaau2; gaau2 ji2): Jiao zi is a standard in most teahouses. They are made of ingredients wrapped in a translucent rice flour or wheat starch skin, and are different from jiaozi found in other parts of China. Though common, steamed rice-flour skins are quite difficult to make. Thus, it is a good demonstration of the chef’s artistry to make these translucent dumplings. There are also dumplings with vegetarian ingredients, such as tofu and pickled cabbage.

Nice soft skin and very fluffy stuffings. Recommended.

Vegetable Dumplings 菜餃 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00093

Lotus root pie 蓮藕餅.

Pretty good. Contains shrimp so tasted a bit of mashed shrimp pie.

Lotus root pie 蓮藕餅 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00090

Sweet cream buns 奶皇包 (Wikipeia. Sweet cream buns (奶皇包 naai5 wong4 baau1): Steamed buns with milk custard filling.

Good though not spectacular.

Sweet cream buns 奶皇包 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00094

Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕 (Wikipedia). Cakes are made from mashed daikon radish mixed with bits of dried shrimp and pork sausage that are steamed and then cut into slices and pan-fried.

Better than expected. Came with hot sauce which was unexpected. Recommended.

Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕  / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00092

Rice noodle roll 腸粉 (Wikipedia). A rice noodle roll (also translated as steamed rice roll) is a Cantonese dish from southern China and Hong Kong, commonly served as a variety of dim sum. It is a thin roll made from a wide strip of shahe fen (rice noodles), filled with shrimp, pork, beef, vegetables, or other ingredients. Sweet soy sauce is poured over the dish upon serving. The rice noodle is also known as chee cheong fun where chee cheong means pig intestine, and fun means noodle; this is because the noodle resembles the small intestine of a pig.

We had the minced beef variety. It’s good standard fare, though nothing special either.

Rice noodle roll 腸粉 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00089

Osmanthus Jelly 桂花糕. Dessert dim sum.

These are stunning! Light and fluffy. The jelly was so soft that there is no way to eat it with chopsticks, so forks were provided. HIGHLY recommended.

Osmanthus Jelly 桂花糕 / Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, Sham Shui Po 添好運點心專門店, 深水埗 / SML.20120820.G12.00096

How to get there
Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists
G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po
+852 2788 1226

Media licensing
Video licensed CC-BY-ND 2012 See-ming Lee / SML Universe
All photographs licensed CC-BY-SA 2012 See-ming Lee / SML Universe