August 27, 2009

Second Interview

This is from the three-hour interview I made last Friday. The author kind of exaggerated, and some of the quotes of me are not verbatim, so don't take me wrong.
Photo: Dr. Zhang Hongwei (right) (blog) and me.

August 23, 2009

Gmail supports SMTP of alternative addresses

With this, you can send emails with your own SMTP server instead of Google's. This is especially useful for   professional addresses (of universities, companies, etc.). The recipient of your message will not be able to identify whether your message is sent from Gmail, an email client, or the standard webmail interface provided by your institution.

After some investigation, I have found the SMTP server (as well as the POP and IMAP ones) of HKBU to be, and the SMTP port code 587.

On New Oriental

The reporter of New Oriental again asked me what do I think about the New Oriental School and what kind of trainers do I like. Here is what I replied:

Like I said, the most important aspect of a New Oriental School (NOS) course is to teach students about what a test is like and how to deal with the many facets of the test, during registration, preparation, and the test sessions itself. Also, a good NOS lecturer can always integrate abundant general knowledge into their classes. This information may not be directly related to the course, but it serves to broaden a student's horizon and also help her with dealing the wide range of topics in the Reading/Listening sections of tests and providing supporting facts in her Writing etc. This is the kind of NOS teacher I like, who can always fascinate students with intriguing facts about anything.

August 22, 2009

Recent Interviews

I haven't been home very much these days. On Wednesday the New Beijing News (Xinjingbao) has done a thirty-minute interview with me about how to study for the TOEFL test and learning English in general, and a summary of this interview is expected to be published on Monday's (8/24) News in the "Learning Community" column of Part D.

On Friday the New Oriental School arranged a three-hours-long interview with me, covering everything from acing the TOEFL to how I spent my primary school life. It was quite draining but I did also learn something about myself through the discussion. The article to be resulted will probably be published on the New Oriental Spirit (Xindongfang Jingshen) Magazine.

Look out for them if you are interested.

August 19, 2009

A Survey

Survey on the response rate of email requests to two Academic Registry addresses

The survey is based on a sample of emails sent to the two addresses between 9/4/07 and 8/13/09 (both inclusive).


Request replied

Request not replied

Total sent

Response rate











The results listed here are based on a relatively small sample and sometimes vague memory of the consequence of the request. Also the results are affected by technical reasons, e.g. malfunction of the mail system etc. Therefore they should not be used for purposes other than personal reference.

The most popular social networking website,, is now changed to
But I wonder how many of my readers still remember the original that was once prevalent a decade ago?
Image sources:;

China sells US debt

China reduced its holdings of US government debt by the largest margin in nearly nine years in June, according to data from the US Treasury.
The sales were made as the US treasury secretary was visiting Beijing to try to reassure the Chinese that their investment in his country's government debt is safe.

August 18, 2009

Test of English as a Foreign Language

I took the TOEFL test on August 2. I knew I could always score higher than 115 out of 120, but I really did not anticipate a 120, even after the test. I always thought a full mark required quite some good luck, which was not something I was good at obtaining.


But anyway, here I am with a score report of a thirty in each of the four sections. Friends congratulate for my success and I thank them.


Some asked me what materials I used during the preparation. Well, I think any comprehensive preparatory course would suffice but I used the Official Guide (also available in a Chinese version) and Delta's Key to the Next Generation TOEFL Test (here for Chinese version). Also I have to point out that the information available on ETS' website is most important. Adequately understand the format and structure of the test and do one practice test each day for a few days before the test. The TPO also proved to be helpful.


Above all, the most crucial, and pardon me to repeat what many have said, is to use the language; otherwise what's the point of learning it?

August 13, 2009

"Lost in Translation"

I just watched this film made in 2003 today. It tells a story of a U.S. movie star, who is staying in a Tokyo hotel to make commercials, meeting and falling in love with a photographer's wife from New York decades younger than he is. The love in this movie doesn't involve sex, but only the true spiritual love between two isolated souls.

Scarlett Johansson is the lead actress of this movie. She also played the part of Mary Boleyn in "The Other Boleyn Girl" (2008). Not until after the watching did I realize why she looked so familiar. Also she starred in "He's Just Not That Into You" this year, and together with Jennifer Aniston, I have no reason to put off watching this movie any longer.

August 12, 2009

Google's 'Caffeine'

Will Google's new Caffeine search engine make Google more addictive?

More than two months ago Microsoft launched its Bing. Though Bing was received with full anticipation, I still found that Google's results were more tailored to my need, even without this future Caffeine update.

August 5, 2009

Obama's Book

I've just finished reading Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father. It tells the story of how a black American boy sought for his origins, tried to understand the divided world around him, and to make a difference to the society, and finally grew up to become a man with concrete faith in life. Written more than a decade ago, Obama described in this book his childhood in Hawaii, life in college and as an organizer, and later, his experience during his first visit to his fatherland – Kenya, where he could finally get to learn about his other home comprehensively. The story is told with full emotion, and reads like a novel. Recommended.

August 3, 2009

Impressions on England

I went to England many years ago for a summer school at Eton College. It was the first time I had been to the Occident.

Eton was an aged town. I liked the centuries-old buildings, especially the unfortunate College Chapel with one wing destroyed during war. The climate there was humid compared to that of Beijing, but very comfortable, with a fine temperature and occasional light rains.

The Windsor Castle was exactly like what I had seen in movies depicting western royal life, and the bazaar outside the Castle was bustling with exotic goods and living statue artists at the centers of the streets. We went there quite often.

We only went to London once, owing to the serial subway explosion accidents. Fortunately the London Eye gave us a panoramic view of the whole city without exception. And the tour on Thames led us through the heart of the metropolis.

The Stone Henge was not as magnificent as I had once thought. I realized it must be the mystery embedded that truly attracted tourists and scientists.

The Hampton Court in no way resembled Chinese royal palaces such as the Forbidden City. However, its emotional appeal may be in marginal consensus with that of the Summer Palace.

Oxford was rather a town than a university. At least I could not make an assessment of it as a university  since I did not attend any lectures there. The town was of typical English fashion. It was on the day of a Harry Potter book's release. Some of our people bought more than one copy of it.

Nevertheless, I sincerely wish the Englishmen, together with the French, had not conflagrated the Garden of All Gardens, Yuanmingyuan.