Tencent denies rumors that it will charge for WeChat services

There have been rumors saying that WeChat, a mobile phone text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent in China, will end its free service to users.

As more Chinese people are using WeChat to send texts instead of using traditional mobile message systems, ministry is looking into possibilities of having more than 300 million users   pay for the service, said Global Times.

“Now is not the right time for operators to demand that Tencent pay for its WeChat app, because Tencent has not commercialized WeChat and is still suffering a loss with it,” Sun Peilin, a senior researcher at consultancy Analysys International, told the Global Times.

Last week, Ma Huateng, chairman and CEO of Tencent, clarified that it was impossible that a WeChat user would need to pay for the services, said in an article on LifeinGuangzhou.

WeChat mascots. Photo from Flickr. Some rights reserved.


Over 16,000 dead pigs found in Shanghai, China

During the past three weeks, Shanghai residents have been living in fears of drinking polluted water.

It is reported by the Huffington Post last week that the number of dead pigs pulled from rivers that supply water to Shanghai has risen to more than 16,000. The rotting pigs were believed to be from the upstream city of Jiaxing in neighboring Zhejiang province:

Villagers have told state media that pig dumping is on the rise following police campaigns against the illicit trade of pork products harvested from diseased pigs that were illegally sold, instead of properly disposed of.

Officers said that the water quality was normal, however, to residents living in the neighborhood cities, the river was more like a giant “pork chop soup.” NBC News reported that water in Huangpu River may already has been polluted:

Reports that many of the pigs found have tested positive for porcine circovirus, a virus that has killed large numbers of pigs in the region in recent months, has also raised suspicions about the safety of Shanghai’s water supply.

According to Bloomberg, dead pigs started to appear on the riverbanks of Huangpu River on March 4. City authorities stepped in to cover up the crisis, said South China Morning Post.

CNN’s report on the thousands of dead pigs found floating in a Shanghai river:

The growing impact of social media

My final project will focus on how social media, especially Twitter, has been developing during the past five years, and have a discuss about how it will be in the future.

For my paper project I will do a feature story on BostonTweet, who is basically tweeting about life and things to do in Boston. He has been an active Twitter user since 2008, with 20,859 tweets and 78,703 followers. I think he is a good example of using Twitter not only as a social tool, but to aggregate news, bring people together, as well as make a career. This is what we might not have thought about five years before, and it is exciting to see how far it will go and what it will become in the upcoming five years or so. I have scheduled an interview with him on next Wednesday.

For the video and photo project I plan to do a story on a Weibo user who lives in Boston doing the same thing as what BostonTweet does, but on a Chinese platform. I am still waiting to hear from him. If this does not work out, I am thinking to talk to a variety of people, including an expert as media/communication professor, to discuss about how they have been using social media and what they think social media will be like in the future.

Finding burgers in Boston – jm Curley

If you are looking for a relaxed bar where you can chat with friends while enjoy a perfect burger during lunch break or after work at Downtown District in Boston, jm Curley is the place.

A look from the outside.

I arrived there at 12:30 p.m. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxed. Hand-written menu boards and old, framed photos of former mayer, James Michael Curley (whom the bar is named after), are hung on the wall. The space was quite empty, with a few people sitting in the corner or at the bar, working on their laptops. Tarcy Latimer, the bar tender, said that the place always gets full on Friday night, when people come in with groups of friends to have food, drinks and fun. At jm Curley, dinner ends at 10:15 p.m., but late night burgers are still available till 1 a.m.

Inside look.

Order at the bar.

I ordered the house burger as recommended, which is a 5 oz. beef burger with griddled onions, cheddar, russian dressing and pickles. The burger was just cooked perfectly – meaty, juicy and flavorful. The bread was soft and fluffy on one side, and crispy on the other. The 5 oz. portion is totally enough for lunch, which costs $7.5 before tax, and their dinner burgers are 9 oz., served with fires for $14. They also serve veggie burgers, and there are lots of options for beers and cocktails. The server and bar tender were nice and the food was served quick.

My House Burger with fries. Meaty, juicy and Flavorful.

What makes it special at jm Curley is their Sammy’s 7 feature board besides the regular menu. Every two weeks they change the menu on the board, providing new specials by creative chefs.

Sammy’s 7 menu board.

“So far we have done lots of different Sammy’s 7 burgers,” said Latimer, “we have done Sloppy Joe Burger, and we have done burgers with peanut butter, fired eggs, you know, those are all pretty good. If you check our Twitter feeds or go on our Facebook page, we always put up a photograph of the menu to let people know what it is before they come in.”

Bubble hockey corner is also open for friends to have fun.

Bubble hockey corner.

Days and hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Mid Day Burgers: Mon-Fri 2-5pm; Dinner: Mon-Sat 5-10:15pm; Late Night Burgers & Concretes: Mon-Sat 10:30pm-1:15am; Closed Sundays

Price: moderate

Phone number: (617) 338-5333

Website: http://jmcurleyboston.com/

Address: 21 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111

Closest T stop: Park Street (Green Line)

Veggie option: Yes

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Recommended: house burger, fried pickles, cast iron cornbread, Sammy’s 7 specials

Mapping as journalism

Is mapping journalism? I would say yes.

Although mapping is always used as a tool or just inserted in the news reports as a supplement, I consider it to be journalism. I think it does the same as what infographics and charticles do.

This is a good example telling disparities in popular vote versus seats won by state in 2012,  and did a compare with that in 2010. Explaining this by mapping, I think, is more visual than telling it in long articles or by simply listing numbers.

Also, here is an example of how mapping can tell more than traditional news reports do. I think mapping is a good way to tell stories in new media era. It does not require a big space, yet can give a lot of information.

One thing I found interesting: in this case, Mark Newman draw a series of maps to show 2012 U.S. presidential election results. It shows that if you use different measures when making the map (by population cartogram or by state or by county, etc), you will get the maps slightly different. So how to keep the accuracy of mapping in journalism might be what journalists need to concern about.

2013 Boston Chinese New Year Lion Dance Parade

To celebrate the new year of 2013, Chinese year of snake, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) and Chinatown Main Street organized a lion dance parade in Chinatown, Boston. Eight lion troupes joined the parade, giving performance from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.

The weather was pretty bad on Sunday and the whole city was still in recovery after the severe blizzard hit the state. Some people were asking the organizer if they could move the parade to the week of Feb. 24, but Chinatown Main Street posted on their facebook page saying that they decided to go in spite of the snow. Not as many people showed up as expected, yet visitors and families were having fun.

Since nowadays even in China people do not often give lion dance performance when celebrating lunar new year, this is aslo my first time to watch the lion dance parade. Here is a video I made about the parade, including interviews with one of the lion troupe leaders and director of Chinatown Main Street Program.