Erasing David

I just watched Erasing David, a documentary about a man who tried to hide from two private detectives for a month.

Amazing; you just can’t hide unless you sacrifice pretty much everything.

And this was all relatively low-tech and with almost no access to the sort information a government can use (e.g. cellphone locations, passport registration at borders, ATM withdrawals, CCTV). Not to mention the stuff that’s coming in the next few years: mass facial recognition, CCTV online, everyone on Facebook, dirt cheap and ultra fast DNA sequencing, chip based public transport, better (international) interconnecting of databases, pattern/signature recognition in arbitrary (anonymous) data and accidental/ deliberate massive leaks from central databases. And last but not least: abundant cheap (online) labor to do all the work that can’t be automated.

iSimplifiedChinese Startups

How to make a Chinese language course – Part I

The goal of iSimplifiedChinese is to teach people how to pronounce Standard Mandarin Chinese. For that I need words and phrases for students to practice. But which?

The goal isn’t to teach vocabulary or grammar; there are other apps, books and teachers for that. In theory you don’t need to understand a word you’re saying in order to pronounce it correctly. However I believe it’s useful and good for motivation when you learn something that you can see yourself using in the real world.

How big should a course be?

For practical and philosophical reasons, I’d like to turn that question around and ask how short it can be. My hypothesis is that after practicing X words, you’re able to pronounce most new words correctly as you encounter them. All I need to do is figure out what number X is. My initial guess is a few hundred.

iSimplifiedChinese Startups


Apple gave me a really nice birthday present on December 2nd, when they approved my iPhone application: iSimplifiedChinese. For those who don’t know it, it allows you to practice your Chinese pronunciation by sending your pronunciations to a real Chinese person for feedback.

I expected waking up filthy rich the next morning, but unfortunately it turns out I need to do a bit more work for that. There could be many reasons why only one copy was sold in the first week, but I figured that the most import reason was that nobody knew about it. Time to reread the 4HWW chapters on Marketing.

My goal for January is to sell 120 copies or the equivalent in other revenue. If that fails I want to at least obtain enough data and insight to know what to do next. My remaining budget for this is about €50 and 50 hours.